Gregory Hayes: Re-Seeing New Works is an elegant and very grown-up solo on display at Rule Gallery (227 Broadway, 303-777-9537, www.rulegallery.com). It showcases the recent efforts by Hayes, an emerging artist who lives in New York, where he's in grad school. But he also has a Colorado connection, having done his undergraduate work at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in Lakewood, and this makes him part of a battalion of noteworthy artists who have gone to this school.
Many of these RMCAD-ets studied with Clark Richert, the Colorado dean of pattern painting, whose style of choice is hard-edged abstraction. These former students have embraced Richert's aesthetic and conceptual insights and used them as stepping-off points for their own approaches. Besides Hayes, Richert protegés include Bruce Price, Jason Hoelscher and Karen McLanahan.
In the case of Hayes, his response to Richert has been to reinterpret, and perhaps deconstruct, established notions about grids. What Hayes does in one group of paintings is to divide the picture plane into a traditional windowpane grid; then, using a mathematical formula that follows the set of prime numbers, he drips dollops of paint in different colors into predetermined parts of the grid. The result is that the drips have irregular margins and are thus expressive; at the same time, the collective organization of the drips into the grids is logic-based. This duality between feeling and thinking creates a reconciling of opposites in the paintings, which provides them with the conceptual interest necessary to make them intriguing — even if it seems like there is little going on at first.
A successful visual device is the sense for color: Hayes employs extremely limited palettes that are heterogeneous, with, say, a cool tone predominating as an underlying color field, but with a dash or two of a couple of hot shades. An example can be seen in "Primary Array #41" (pictured), which is mostly blue-green (cool), with the scattered bits of yellow and red (hot) providing just the right counterpoise.