Now Showing

Capsule reviews of current exhibits

Rex Ray. The Promenade Space on the second floor of MCA Denver is both a passageway and an exhibition hall. Given its limited size and unconventional plan — the main wall runs diagonally to the windows opposite it — the Promenade has been used exclusively for single installations. The latest example is an untitled mural by San Francisco artist Rex Ray, who used to live in Colorado. Ray has a national reputation based not just on his fine art, but as a designer of everything from books to coffee mugs. Ray created the mural specifically for this show and specially designed the fabulous wallpaper that surrounds it. The mural is signature Ray, with shapes that rise from the base in the manner of a still-life or landscape. The shapes have been made from cut-outs of painted papers that have been laid against a stunning blue ground, and were inspired by organic forms, or at least abstractions of them, as seen in mid-century modern design. The wallpaper has a spare, all-over pattern on a white ground, complementing the mural without competing with it. Through January 31 at MCA Denver, 1485 Delgany Street, 303-298-7554, www.mcadenver.org.

Virginia Maitland. This show, officially dubbed Virginia Maitland: A Mirror of Abstraction; Paintings Across Time, is an economical look at some recent pieces by the Boulder-based abstractionist, together with a single older piece that clearly anticipates what she is doing now. The early work, "Androgynous Stain," from 1974, is fabulous, with veils of strong color in jewel-like tones colliding with each other in the center. Interestingly, Maitland rolled up this painting thirty years ago, and it was just pulled out of its tube and re-stretched last month. It hasn't aged a bit during the intervening decades and still looks bright and fresh. While it was hidden, Maitland experimented widely with her paintings — even incorporating photocopied images in some. But in the last year or two, she's returned to her colorist roots as exemplified by nearly a dozen recent works in this show, most from 2009. Maitland moved to Colorado from the East Coast in 1970, and she's said that it was the West's expansive vistas that led her to embrace the color-field abstraction that's since become her signature. Through May 30 at Sandra Phillips Gallery, 744 Santa Fe Drive, 303-573-5969, www.thesandraphillipsgallery.com.

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