Reviewed: Eight Art Shows (Two Closing) to Catch This Weekend
Denver Botanic Gardens
The weather will be beautiful this weekend, which makes it a perfect time to catch Calder Monumental at the Denver Botanic Gardens. But you'll find plenty of lovely sights inside Denver's galleries and museums, too, including several shows that are closing. Keep reading for capsule reviews of eight displays worth your time around town.
"Kaos #5," by Homare Ikeda, acrylic and oil on canvas.
Sam Scott, Homare Ikeda, et al. A pattern of natural forms — in particular, plant shapes — connects the paintings and sculptures on view on the first floor of the William Havu Gallery. Although there’s an aesthetic seamlessness to the whole endeavor, it actually comprises three separate single-artist shows. The festivities begin with Sam Scott – Still Lifes, which highlights unusual pieces by New Mexico’s Sam Scott, typically known for his all-over abstracts inspired by the desert scenery. But the Scotts at Havu are different, with each one depicting a vase filled with flowers. Adjacent to the Scotts is Homare Ikeda, showcasing a group of signature nature-based abstracts by this well-respected Colorado artist. Whereas Scott is working against type, Ikeda is reinforcing his; these paintings are the latest examples of his classic more-is-more aesthetic. Scattered among the Scotts and Ikedas are tabletop sculptures of highly abstracted imaginary plants that make up the solo Rachel Stevens. Up on the mezzanine is Laura Wait, a display of calligraphic abstractions with an Asian look. Through June 17 at the Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360, williamhavugallery.com.
Peter Illig, “thinking of you” and “love system," oil on panel with neon.
Walker Fine Art
Metaphors. Gallery director Bobbi Walker has been tweaking her approach to exhibitions at her eponymous Walker Fine Art, which just celebrated its fifteenth anniversary, replacing featured solos with thematically organized group shows. This new formula applies to Walker's current exhibit, Metaphors. As the show unfolds, it resolves itself into two clearly delineated parts. Up front is a duet that comprises two artists whose work orchestrates representational imagery with a whiff of the retro. The first, Meagan Svendsen, has overseen the construction of an ambitious installation about the telephone called “A Little Birdy Told Me.” Artist-made telephones and a found telephone pole are just some of the elements used in the piece. The other half of the front-space duo is Peter Illig, who is represented by a suite of paintings that combine figural imagery with slogans that have been written out in old-fashioned cursive in neon tubing. The rest of the show, made up of lyrical abstracts by Farida Hughes, Patricia Finley, Andrew Marcus and Ana Zanic, seems like a separate endeavor. Through June 17 at Walker Fine Art, 300 West 11th Avenue, #A, 303-355-8955, walkerfineart.com.
Claire Sherman, “Tree and Moss,” oil on canvas.
Out of View. This wide-ranging group show includes paintings, photos and videos, with everything linked via the theme of the natural environment. The Claire Shermans that start the show depict trees, but Sherman has employed techniques associated more with abstraction than with representational painting, such as her use of thick, bold strokes. David Sharpe is up next, with pinhole photos produced using primitive cameras that he builds himself. But unlike most pinhole photographers, who typically work in black and white exclusively, Sharpe works in vivid color. Karen Kitchel renders hauntingly dreary scenes of urban incursions on nature; underscoring the idea of an ongoing battle with nature is a video by Isabelle Hayeur. A serious mood is likewise struck by James Benning’s “Two Cabins,” videos of re-creations of Thoreau’s cabin in Massachusetts and Ted Kaczynski’s cabin in Montana. The final two phases of Out of View intelligently bring us back to the start with paintings that combine representation and abstraction by Nikki Lindt and Allison Gildersleeve. Through July 8 at Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee Street, 303-298-7788, robischongallery.com. Read the review of Out of View.
Audacious includes Carroll Dunham's "Shootist."
Denver Art Museum
Audacious. Last summer, Rebecca Hart took the rudder of the Denver Art Museum’s Modern and Contemporary department, and Audacious: Contemporary Artists Speak Out, in the main galleries on the third level of the DAM’s Hamilton Building, is her debut effort. Although Audacious is meant to showcase objects from the DAM’s permanent collection, this particular assortment has been heavily salted with pieces from the private holdings of Kent and Vicki Logan. The largesse of other important donors is included, too, but to a lesser extent. Among the standouts are several works by American artists such as Philip Guston, Robert Colescott, David Hammons, Barbara Kruger, Brian Alfred and Ben Jackel. There’s also a big European presence, especially among the YBA (Young British Artists), who are now, alas, not so young. Chinese art likewise plays a large role in Audacious, and there are even some Colorado artists included, among them Tony Ortega, Jack Balas and Viviane Le Courtois. Extended through August 6 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, denverartmuseum.org.
Keep reading for capsule reviews of four more shows.
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