By Show and Tell
By Bree Davies
By Bree Davies
By Cory Casciato
By Emilie Johnson
By Robin Edwards
By Bree Davis
By Josiah M. Hesse
The Magafan Twins. Ethel and Jenne Magafan were identical twins born in Chicago but raised in Denver. In the 1920s, their art teacher at East High School was so impressed with their talent that he paid their tuition to attend Denver's School of Modern Art, run by Frank Mechau; they later studied at the Kirkland School of Art. In the 1930s, the twins followed Mechau to his Redstone studio and then to the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center School. They were right in the midst of the regionalist scene here during the Great Depression, and both completed New Deal-era murals: Ethel's is in the South Broadway post office, and Jenne's is at West High School. Colorado Art Before, During and After the Magafan Twins, now at the Kirkland Museum, displays an economical selection of their paintings and prints, using them as anchors for a more broadly based group show. In addition, "The Riders," an ultra-rare and newly acquired painting by Mechau, is also included. Jenne died in the '50s, but Ethel carried on until the 1990s. Through August 2, Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, 1311 Pearl Street, 303-832-8576, www.kirklandmuseum.org. Reviewed July 2.
The Psychedelic Experience. The AIGA graphics curator, Darrin Alfred, has only been on the job at the Denver Art Museum for a year, and already he's the author of a major blockbuster, The Psychedelic Experience: Rock Posters From the San Francisco Bay Area. Alfred selected around 300 posters from a gift of more than 800 relevant pieces from Boulder collector David Tippit. A connoisseur, Tippit sought examples that were in the finest condition available and those that were artist-signed. Alfred uses the show to feature the principal artists involved in the movement and exhibits the work of each in separate sections. This was a smart move, since it conveys the idea that a range of sensibilities, including art nouveau, surrealism and pop art, among other sources, came together to form the psychedelic poster style. Specialists in the field have identified a big five, but Alfred doesn't agree, so there are seven stars (one of which is a team) in this exhibit: Lee Conklin, Rick Griffin, Alton Kelley & Stanley Mouse, Bonnie MacLean, Victor Moscoso, David Singer and Wes Wilson. Extended through July 26 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000. www.denverartmuseum.org. Reviewed May 21.
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.
Sidebeside. Standard art fare during the summer involves group shows made up of artists from a gallery's stable. Ron Judish, director of Gallery T, has taken this old chestnut and put an interesting twist on it. For Sidebeside, he has asked each of the artists represented by T to select another who isn't and then present the ad hoc pairs together — hence the odd exhibition title. It's a marvelously creative idea. but to be honest, it didn't work out in every case, and some of the invitees really don't stand up to the high quality ordinarily associated with T. On the other hand, some of the pairings, such as Jeff Wenzel's selection of Ania Gola-Kumor, were inspired; the artists' pieces look gorgeous together. Also great are William Stockman's selection of Joe Clower, Robert Delaney's of Patrick Marold, and Emmett Culligan's pick of Amanda Gordon Dunn. Judish has announced that Sidebeside will be the last show at this address, because gallery owner Andrew Kalmar is looking to buy a building to house his business. So when this show closes, the location will, too — with no word yet on where T will wind up. Through July 11 at Gallery T, 878-2 Santa Fe Drive, 303-893-0960, www.galleryt.org.
Steve Wilson. During the summer, the Auraria campus shifts into low gear, but that doesn't mean that the Emmanuel Gallery shuts down. Summer is the time to see ambitious shows there, and the current feature, Steve Wilson, is a perfect example. This handsome presentation is an in-depth look at the little-known Denver artist's two-part oeuvre. On the main floor are Wilson's signature collages, while the mezzanine holds his very different paintings. The show's catalogue has essays by Wilson's fans alongside images of the works included. What can be gleaned from the essays is that Wilson has been doing art here since the '60s and that he was part of a now mostly forgotten bohemia. Publicity touts Wilson as being a "Beat," but considering the timeline, he's more of a hippie, even if he was influenced by the Beats. Wilson uses images from old magazines, which lends his collages a retro look. Stylistically, the work harks back to the dada artists of the early twentieth century, but Wilson has done them over a greater span of time than any of his mentors. Through July 10 at Emmanuel Gallery, Lawrence Street Mall, Auraria campus, 303-556-8337, www.emmanuelgallery.org. Reviewed June 25.