Now Showing

Capsule reviews of current exhibits

Hirst/Koons. Ron Judish, the director of Andrew Kalmar's brand-new T gallery, decided to pair mega-art star Damien Hirst with another big-time artist, Jeff Koons, for the venue's inaugural show. The exhibit includes three pieces by Hirst and four by Koons, but this small number of works underscores the fact that both artists are hotter than hot, so their efforts are hard to come by. Two of the Hirsts come from the artist's series of pieces about butterflies, and one comes from his work about medication. The butterfly prints are photo-based, with the beautiful insects perfectly conveyed. The medication piece looks like a direct appropriation of a prescription-drug package until you notice that the "drug" is called "Cornish Pasty," a meat pie. It manages to refer to pop and its antithesis, minimalism, simultaneously. The four Koonses on the opposite wall are all from the artist's "Monkey Train" series. In them, a photo-based image of the head of a blow-up monkey toy is laid on different though connected grounds. Through December 20 at T gallery, 878-2 Santa Fe Drive, 303-893-0960, Reviewed November 13.

In Contemporary Rhythm: The Art of Ernest L. Blumenschein. It sounds like a preposterous moment in a cheesy Western. A couple of artists head out from Denver for Mexico by wagon, break down, and start an art colony that goes on strong for the next sixty years. It sounds made up, but it's true. In 1898, Ernest Blumenschein and his neighbor, Bert Phillips, broke down near Taos, and the rest is art history. The Denver Art Museum, in collaboration with the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History and the Phoenix Art Museum, has organized a major solo of Blumenschein's oeuvre called In Contemporary Rhythm: The Art of Ernest L. Blumenschein. The exhibit was co-curated by Elizabeth Cunningham and Peter Hassrick, director of the Petrie Institute of Western American Art at the DAM. The show is the most comprehensive exhibit on Blumenschein ever. It starts with his early work, done in Paris and New York at the turn of the century, then follows his Taos career through the 1950s. A gorgeous presentation, it proves that Blumenschein was a genuine painter's painter. Through February 8 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, Reviewed November 20.

Light and Time. A series of wet-plate Collodion print photographs by Mark Sink and Kristen Hatgi have been propped against the walls at Rule Gallery. The Collodion process is an early photographic method employed by Civil War documentarian Matthew Brady. In a jointly written artist statement, Sink and Hatgi observe that archaic chemical processes — including the Collodion procedure — that fell by the wayside in the late 19th century are making something of a comeback at the beginning of the 21st. It's no doubt a reaction to the digital revolution. The small photos on glass or tin that depict men, women, landscapes and still-life scenes are very beautiful, if more than a little creepy. In the middle part of the gallery are some remarkable candid shots of Andy Warhol (and one of Jean-Michel Basquiat) that were taken by Sink during his youth in New York. They are remarkable and show Warhol as he was at the end of his life. In the back room is a group of representational paintings by emerging artist Nathan Abels. Through January 10 at Rule, 227 Broadway, #101, 303-777-9473, Reviewed December 11.

Place and Time and Walt Kuhn. One of the ways you can tell that Blake Milteer is an imaginative curator is by how well he programs shows. The most recent evidence can be seen in two interrelated exhibits at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. In Place and Time, Denver photographer Edie Winograde has traveled to live re-creations of various historic events and taken photos from which she does tinted inkjets. The narrative is the struggle of the Indians and settlers. Her signature images are blurry, conveying movement, but they also provide a link to the other show. In Walt Kuhn, the early-twentieth-century painter, who spent a lot of time in Colorado, does cowboys and Indians under the influence of European vanguard art, which means his images are blurry, too. The paintings are part of a series, "An Imaginary History of the West," that Kuhn did between 1918 and 1920. They are from the CSFAC's permanent collection, a gift from the artist's widow made over fifty years ago. Through January 4 at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 30 West Dale Street, Colorado Springs, 1-719-634-5583, Reviewed November 27.

through a glass, darkly. The inaugural exhibition at Laura Merage's RedLine is through a glass, darkly, curated by Jenny Schlenzka, who's from Germany but lives in New York. The title was inspired by the classic Ingmar Bergman film of the same name, but Schlenzka discovered that the phrase is from the Bible. Watching the elections made her want to do a political show, though not everything here has an apparent message, especially the initial work, "Self-Portrait As Us," by Douglas Gordon, an altered publicity shot of the cast of the TV show Dynasty, set in Denver. Dynasty has a personal resonance for Schlenzka because it was her grandmother's favorite show — called Der Denver Clan in Germany. The one truly incredible piece in the show, and the only one that coherently expresses a political point of view, is by Annette Roberts-Gray, who lives not in Manhattan, London or Berlin, but in Glenwood Springs. It is a large set of shelves painted gray; on them are 1,000 hand-thrown porcelain vases, all impressed with the names of soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Through January 16 at RedLine, 2350 Arapahoe Street, 303-296-4448, Reviewed November 6.

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