Persistent Terrain is a solo that works better as a duet

It's a funny thing about the exhibition business: Sometimes multiple solos are presented at the same venue that work in concert with one another and for all intents and purposes function together as a group show, and sometimes pieces by different artists are organized into thematic group efforts that actually function like individual — and unrelated — single-artist outings and never really jell into a coherent whole.

The latter example describes the unusual Persistent Terrain, at Ironton Studios and Gallery (3636 Chestnut Place, 303-297-8626, www.irontonstudios.com), in which hyper-realist paintings by Lanny DeVuono sit uncomfortably cheek-by-jowl with neo-surrealist ones by Melissa Furness.

DeVuono, who is the head of the fine-art department at the University of Colorado Denver and one of RedLine's resource artists, creates work in the conceptual-realist realm. Often putting different paintings together to form a single work, some with picture planes at different levels, DeVuono likes to capture aerial views as well as views of the sky. Both of these attributes are seen in "After Empire #20" (detail pictured). All of her work is carried out with an admirable level of technical skill, and the palette, which tends toward moody and muted shades, is interesting.

Furness does something completely different, with pieces as exuberant, colorful and expressive as DeVuono's are restrained, subtle and tight. And whereas DeVuono is dedicated to landscape, right down to the horizontal format she uses, Furness, while also touching on landscapes, is more into a vertical orientation — sometimes called a "portrait format" — and thus includes depictions of the figure, or allusions to it, in her compositions. One very interesting feature of some of these paintings is the elaborate patterns that serve as grounds but are so subtle that you need to look closely in order to perceive them clearly.

The accomplished paintings by both artists have a lot to recommend them; they just don't work very well together. But all that means is that you should view each half on its own, and then Persistent Terrain functions nicely as two separate shows.

The display runs through May 19 at Ironton.

 
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