In the front gallery at Walker Fine Art (300 West 11th Avenue, 303-355-8955, www.walkerfineart.com), owner Bobbi Walker has paired up painter Don Quade and sculptor James Dixon, both from Denver, for the exhibit Natural Abstractions. The show's title is somewhat general in its implications, if not quite a catch-all, because so many artists base their abstractions on nature. But in addition to the fact that both Quade and Dixon use natural shapes, there is a relationship between the otherwise very different work of each, and that is the fact that both artists use the repetition of small shapes to lay out larger forms.
Quade has been influenced over the past few years by the signature work of his old friend Emilio Lobato, but these new paintings, though still revealing the connection, are really new and different-looking. In many of them, Quade has divided the canvas vertically, with a wide ban running across the bottom setting the illusion of a stage, and the main part of the picture sitting above, as in "Spanish Poem" (pictured). Each part has been painted differently, with the bottom typically being a dark, all-over abstraction that's been densely and evenly filled in, and the upper part having an essentially light-colored, airy composition with widely spaced motifs, some of which have been painted over and are thus hidden. Quade's sense of color is great, and he juxtaposes creamy ivories and tans, with hot oranges and metallic-gold shades.
There's a retro-'60s quality to Quade's work, and that's the same thing I'd say about Dixon's bronzes. These sculptures, made out of small rods of bronze that are used to enclose large shapes, vaguely suggest the human figure and plants. They're interesting, but hardly elegant.
Walker has installed four individual displays in the back gallery, and two of the artists represented, Monica Aiello and Norman Epp, carry on the natural-abstraction theme from the show in front, but the other two, Jared Hankins and Dara Mark, do not. In addition, Walker has decked the hallways beyond the galleries with the work of a variety of artists she represents.
Natural Abstraction and its ancillary displays close on October 31.