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
Liz Miller. The biggest art news this season was the opening of the Clyfford Still Museum, and to celebrate, a number of local art institutions mounted salutes to Still. Among the most unusual is Liz Miller: Recalcitrant Mimesis. Miller, an emerging artist from Minnesota, is known for her works made of cut paper or felt, which look something like a cross between papel picado and origami. For Recalcitrant Mimesis, she's created a monumental installation made up of hundreds of pieces of felt attached together and suspended from the walls and the ceiling of the David B. Smith Gallery. The shapes, cut with electric scissors, are jagged and vertically oriented, like Still's chosen forms. And the limited palette that includes two rosy shades with mustard yellow, black and white also recalls Still's work. Ultimately, though, since the installation is three-dimensional, it is completely un-Still-ian, as he was the master of overall flatness. Through February 18 at David B. Smith Gallery, 1543 A Wazee Street, 303-893-4234, www.davidbsmithgallery.com. Reviewed February 9.
Robert Mangold, et al. This sprawling exhibit begins on the grounds of the Arvada Center and continues through the half-dozen exhibition spaces on the lower level inside — and it has to be considered the most important exhibit of the season. Robert Mangold Retrospective: Works From 1955 to Present lays out the Denver artist's career in rough chronological order, though sometimes pieces of vastly different dates are shown together if they are from the same series. Mangold's concern is movement, either actual or conceptual references to it. The exhibit was put together by Collin Parson, who is rapidly distinguishing himself as one of the city's top curators, even if his official role at the center is as exhibition designer. Parson has also put together two other significant shows on the upper level. First is Homare Ikeda/Monroe Hodder, which pairs the organic abstractions by Ikeda with Hodder's post-minimal expressionist paintings. In the Theater Gallery is Lost and Found: A North Sea Collaboration, which features sculptures by Carl Reed and Thomas Claesson. These shows are not to be missed. Through April 1 at the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Boulevard, 720-898-7200, www.arvadacenter.org.
West of Center. Rambling over the three levels of MCA Denver, this exhibit is part of an informal national trend that aims to upwardly reappraise the place of the American West in the art world. The show, the full title of which is West of Center: Art and the Counterculture Experiment in America, 1965-1977, was organized by director Adam Lerner and his wife and co-curator, Elissa Auther; they also co-edited a scholarly catalogue on the subject, the scope of which is far broader than that of this exhibit. The displays are not sequential, but rather a series of completely autonomous presentations, each devoted to a different part of the topic. The curators have cast a wide net, in the process deconstructing standard ideas about art in the West from that time, typically seen as being dominated by psychedelic posters — which aren't even included here. Instead they present the Cockettes drag-queen group, Black Panther broadsides and the utopian Ant Farm Collective. The show's crescendo centers on Colorado's own Drop City. Through February 19 at MCA Denver, 1485 Delgany Street, 303-298-7554, www.mcadenver.org. Reviewed December 22.
What Is Modern? Department of Architecture, Design and Graphics curator Darrin Alfred has put together this large show dedicated to furniture and decor from the early nineteenth to the early 21st century. Alfred has included groundbreaking tables, storage units, lighting and — no surprise here, considering Alfred's specialty — graphics. Laudably, Alfred takes a chronological look at how technological advancements informed the development of modernism, starting with a bentwood chair from 1808 by Samuel Gragg. Its overall form is very sleek, with a gracefully curving back, but the details are very different, being almost precious, like the little hooves that mark the termination of the legs. One of the newest pieces in the show is "Roadrunner," a chair from 2006 by Colorado's own David Larabee and Dexter Thornton working together as DoubleButter. Made of a cheap synthetic, the chair is nonetheless elegant. In between the two chairs, Alfred has installed a wide assortment of classics from the annals of modernism. Through November 30 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, www.denverartmuseum.org. Reviewed December 23.