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Capsule reviews of current exhibits

Dale Chisman. Since Dale Chisman is among the greatest abstract painters who ever plied their trade in Colorado, this show is unquestionably one of the most significant of the year. Recent Paintings by Dale Chisman is also a rare chance to see his work in depth, as it has been three long years since his last in-town solo, which was also at Rule. Chisman was born and raised in Denver and earned his BFA and MFA at CU in Boulder, but he also studied in London and elsewhere. For fifteen years, he lived in New York, where he became involved with that city's cutting-edge art scene. A little over twenty years ago, he returned to Denver. The paintings at Rule, all of them done in 2007 and 2008, are stylistically a continuation of his previous painterly interests while simultaneously covering new ground. They are notably airier and more atmospheric than his earlier efforts, and many incorporate linear elements, often a horizontal line that's meant to be a metaphor for the landscape. An opening will be held on Friday, May 9, from 6 to 9 p.m. Through June 28 at Rule Gallery, 227 Broadway, 303-777-9473, www.rulegallery.com.

Clyfford Still Unveiled. A master and pioneer of mid-twentieth-century abstract expressionism, painter Clyfford Still was something of an eccentric in the artist-as-egomaniac stripe. His antisocial behavior led to a situation where 94 percent of his artworks remained together after he died — a staggeringly complete chronicle of his oeuvre that is now owned by the City of Denver. As a planned Clyfford Still Museum won't be completed until 2010, the institution's founding director, Dean Sobel, decided to preview a baker's dozen of Still's creations at the Denver Art Museum. Sobel uses the very small show to lay out most of the artist's career and stylistic development. Still worked his way from regionalism to surrealism, then wound up developing abstract expressionism with one of the greatest abstract paintings imaginable, "1944 N No. 1" — and the rest is art history. Through June 30 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000. Reviewed July 26, 2007.

Inspiring Impressionism. This is hardly your run-of-the-mill effort in which a cavalcade of big-name European artists are represented by minor works. Instead, it's an intellectually stimulating exhibit crowded with iconic pieces by some of the most significant artists who ever took brush to canvas. Curated by the DAM's Timothy Standring and London's Ann Dumas, the traveling show examines the little-explored relationship between the Impressionists and the Old Masters. The intelligent installation has been handled so that viewers are literally forced to recognize the relationships Standring and Dumas have laid out among several sets of separate pieces of widely different dates and from various points of origin. These comparisons lead viewers to make insightful observations because their conclusions have been built in to the installation itself — not through wall text, but through the paintings and drawings alone. There are a lot of important pieces, including in-depth selections of Cézanne, Monet, Renoir and others. Through May 25 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000. Reviewed February 21.

Jeff Starr. MCA director Cydney Payton has a long tradition of supporting regional artists, and though she erred in not including locals among the Star Power exhibits that opened the new building, she's making up for it with a promised series of solos dedicated to Colorado artists. The first features Jeff Starr, a painter and sculptor with a two-decade-plus-long career. His show is dominated by quirky, idiosyncratic paintings and includes a selection of even quirkier ceramic sculptures. The representational paintings fall into two distinct categories: those that are Hollywood-related, like the portrait of Lee Marvin, and others that are fantasy-based, like the village in the treetops. The ceramic sculptures ape kitsch knickknacks, which is even the case with the monumental bust of a young guy who used to work at Twist & Shout. There is also a fragment of his studio — furniture, books, clippings and study pieces — installed in the corner, giving viewers insight into Starr's sources. Through May 25 at the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver, 1485 Delgany Street, 303-298-7554, www.mcadenver.org. Reviewed April 24.

 
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