Now Showing

Capsule reviews of current exhibits

Berghaus, Douglas and Riverhouse Editions. In the front spaces at Sandy Carson, there's a whimsical yet intelligent show called Clearing: The Kinetic Sculpture of Marc Berghaus. The pieces are mechanical, with the most clever use of machinery being "Freeway Chase," in which viewers look through the frame of a TV screen to tune into a miniature highway pursuit being played out on a rotating cylinder. "Freeway" is definitely memorable for its neat effects. In the inner reaches of the gallery is Life Is but a Dream: Caroline Douglas, featuring ceramic figural sculptures of people and animals having a magic-realist character. Douglas is especially adept at achieving stunning surface effects, with her skill in glazing readily apparent. The gallery is in transition right now, with new owners Jan and Bill van Stratton taking over from Sandy Carson herself. At this point, shows scheduled before the sale are continuing, but the van Strattons are also introducing themselves with Selections From Riverhouse Editions, an exhibit made up of pieces by famous artists created at their fine-print studio in Steamboat Springs. Through May 31 at Sandy Carson Gallery, 760 Santa Fe Drive, 303-573-8585, www.sandycarsongallery.com. Reviewed May 8.

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 — but we'll have to take Chisman's word for that. 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.

Galo Galecio. When the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's permanent collection was being moved back from storage after renovations and additions to the building last year, curator Tariana Navas-Nieves came across a portfolio of prints by Ecuadorian artist Galo Galecio still in its original case. One on Ecuador's most important modernists, Galecio did these wood engravings in the 1940s, and they were acquired by the CSFAC soon after. As so often happens, the prints were immediately stored and never displayed at the CSFAC — until now. Galecio, who studied in Mexico with Diego Rivera, was a Latin-American proponent of surrealism; much of the imagery he employs is disquieting or disturbing, like a big eyeball anchoring one composition, or the figure that seems to be built from severed limbs in another — the only unifying element being the suggestion of a lush jungle in the background. The show is in the Manley Gallery on the ground floor of the new wing. Through August 31 at the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center, 30 West Dale Street, Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581, www.csfineartscenter.org.

Yu-Cheng Chou. On view in the Lu and Chris Law New Media Gallery on the first floor of the Museum of Contemporary Art is a video installation that represents this Chinese-born, Paris-based artist's first-ever museum show in America. Director Cydney Payton was an early proponent of the new Chinese art, and it was the MCA that hosted the area's first major show on the topic several years ago. Yu-Cheng's conceptual work in video and digital printing conveys the appeal of Chinese art because it's based on a hybrid of Eastern and Western sensibilities. In assembling and organizing Yu-Cheng Chou, Payton combated video's greatest shortcoming — that it is often boring — by taking a more-is-more approach to the installation, in which a lot is going on at the same time. The artist embraces a wide range of approaches, with some pieces referencing classic Chinese art and others coming out of Japanese-derived animation. But regardless of his sources, all have been created in an international context. Yu-Cheng Chou is a nice little show, and even if you're indifferent to video, it's still worth seeing. Through July 6 at the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver, 1485 Delgany Street, 303-298-7554. Reviewed March 6.

 
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