This Hodder characteristic leads to another distinction between her work and her sources. The original stripe painters created crisp, straight margins between the colors, whereas Hodder uses soft margins to cut the shades apart. A third distinction is that unlike those of her predecessors, Hodder's colors aren't consistently of the same hue throughout the length of the stripe, but morph and change into different tones.

It's this reconciling of opposites — minimalism and expressionism — that marks her oeuvre as being neo-modern.

To some extent, the paintings are all alike: Each is made up of a stack of horizontal bars divided by slightly wavering lines. But Hodder assembles different palettes for each. Some have a bright and sunny character, such as the monumental "The Winter Series: Moscow in Mind." In it, the bars, which are broken up, are made up of a range of colors including vibrant reds, yellows and purples, with other shades — in particular, more somber blues and greens — grounding the piece. "Incidental Caravaggio" is much earthier in tone, with deep blues and greens separated by extensive passages of white.

"The Winter Series: Moscow in Mind," by Monroe Hodder, oil on canvas.
"The Winter Series: Moscow in Mind," by Monroe Hodder, oil on canvas.
"Tiddlywinks I," by Joan Moment, acrylic on canvas.
"Tiddlywinks I," by Joan Moment, acrylic on canvas.

I started this discussion by indicating that neo-modern was alive and well in the contemporary art world as proved by these two impressive shows of abstract paintings. But given this fact, it's interesting to note that both Moment and Hodder are veteran modernists whose styles have transformed as the times have changed. Apparently, it was the right move for both, as they wound up making art that is still clearly relevant.

The William Havu Gallery doesn't have any particular stylistic program, and these neo-modern abstractions are not the only things on view there now. Under the mezzanine are recent paintings by Carrie Lederer, a California artist who does densely composed and meticulously executed post-modern pictures that incorporate both abstract and representational elements. Upstairs is a handsome group of expertly crafted neo-traditional landscapes by Jeff Aeling, who lives in Missouri but often paints Colorado scenes. His paintings are fairly monumental, with one that's as big as a billboard.

But I need to come back to the Moment and Hodder shows, because together they've gotten this landmark gallery off to a running start just as 2011 dawns.

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