Vlasic does straightforward photo-realist paintings of her fellow twenty-something Gen-Yers who are covered with tattoos or paint. The group included in Out Figured mark three periods of Vlasic's work, with a high technical standard maintained throughout the years — though in truth, her tattooed kids from last year are more interesting than the more recent Burning Man characters.

The McCrays are striking, and the artist's approach to representation is more loose and painterly than Vlasic's precise takes. McCray is concerned in this body of work with translucent fabrics draping elderly people who are either on their death beds or actually dead; it's hard to say which. McCray revels in the depiction of the twisted sheets and covers and in the wrinkled skin and flowing hair of her subjects.

Stylistically, Morgan has taken nothing from her old mentor, McCray, but she has absorbed a taste for difficult concepts. Unquestionably the star of Out Figured, Morgan specializes in portraits — both self-portraits and portraits of her contemporaries. This old-fashioned form strikes me as an unlikely way to push representation to the edge, but Morgan has done it by reconciling different stylistic and pictorial traditions. There's a pop quality, a tip of the hat to photo-realism, and myriad references to "mistakes" in the photo process that provide the basis for these paintings. Sections of some pieces would be called "overexposed" if they weren't paintings; elsewhere, it looks like "filters" have been used to soften the images — but again, these are paintings.

"Ceremony (The Birthday of Million Tear Drops No. 5)," by Xi Zhang, acrylic on canvas.
"Ceremony (The Birthday of Million Tear Drops No. 5)," by Xi Zhang, acrylic on canvas.

Location Info


Plus Gallery

2501 Larimer St.
Denver, CO 80205

Category: Art Galleries

Region: Downtown Denver

Center for Visual Art/MSU

965 Santa Fe Drive
Denver, CO 80204

Category: Art Galleries

Region: Central Denver


Through April 14, at Plus Gallery, 2501 Larimer Street, 303-296-0927, www.plusgallery.com.Through April 7, at Metro's Center for Visual Art, 965 Santa Fe Drive, 303-294-5207, www.metrostatecva.org.

When Garner put together Out Figured, she didn't know it would be her last show at CVA. At the time, the college and the Metro State Foundation board, which fronted the $1.5 million to buy the Santa Fe location, were discussing ways to make the center into more of a moneymaker; toward that end, Amy Tancig was hired as business and development director. One idea being kicked around is renting out the CVA for weddings and parties. But this would, of course, involve tweaking the programming to make it more event-"friendly" — which Out Figured definitely isn't. Realizing that her role would change drastically, Garner decided to return full-time to teaching. At this point, program decisions are being made by the able Cecily Cullen, the assistant director and curator who's been at the CVA even longer than Garner. Greg Watts, the head of the art department, remains as the center's executive director, and he told me that while there are no immediate plans to replace Garner, any backstage changes that are made will be all but invisible to visitors. We'll have to wait and see.

I'm going to close on a personal note. Among the many shows Garner put together since 2005, when she started at the CVA, were two that were based on books for which I was a co-author, Landscapes of Colorado and Colorado Abstract. Though I had nothing to do with the shows themselves, I did have front-row seats for both, and can honestly say that watching Garner sort and arrange the work of over fifty artists for each show left me thoroughly impressed and newly aware of all it took to put on a major exhibit. I will miss her vision and her shows, and I'm sure many others will, too.

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