Reviewed: Don Coen, Mary Chenoweth (Closing), Seven More Art Shows to See Now!

"Manuel," by Don Coen, at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.
"Manuel," by Don Coen, at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.
Courtesy of the artist

There's lots of great art to see in metro Denver...but you need to hurry down to Colorado Springs, if you haven't already caught the shows at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Here are capsule reviews of six worthwhile exhibits along the Front Range, in the order that they're closing.

“Jack,” by Don Coen, airbrush acrylic and pencil on canvas.
“Jack,” by Don Coen, airbrush acrylic and pencil on canvas.
Courtesy of the artist

Don Coen. One of several noteworthy exhibits on view at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center right now is Don Coen: The Migrant Series, which comprises heroic over-sized photo-realist paintings, most of them portraits, depicting Mexican migrant farmworkers. Although the Boulder County painter, an acknowledged Colorado master, does not intend for these paintings to be political, they read that way. In the Trump era, with the president relentlessly vilifying undocumented Mexican workers, deciding to ennoble them, as Coen has, is inevitably political. Among the fifteen paintings, there’s not one false note. Most are close-ups of faces that link them to the work of Chuck Close. In “Jack,” a young, handsome guy in a yellow bandanna flashes a Mona Lisa smile at the viewer. Conveying a similar sense of resignation is the impassive expression on the face of “Liliana,” whose wide-brimmed straw hat beautifully frames her lovely face. Probably the most remarkable feature of The Migrant Series is the way the paintings show off Coen’s tremendous skill. Through May 21 at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 30 West Dale Street, Colorado Springs, 1-719-634-5581, csfineartscenter.org. Read the review of The Migrant Series.

Installation view of FAC Legacy Series: Mary Chenoweth.
Installation view of FAC Legacy Series: Mary Chenoweth.
Courtesy the FAC

Mary Chenoweth. Mary Chenoweth, who died in 1999, was among the most significant abstract artists active in Colorado after World War II. She created her first non-objective works in the late 1940s; in the early 1950s, she became a teacher at the CSFAC and later a professor at Colorado College. For the exhibit FAC Legacy Series: Mary Chenoweth, curator Joy Armstrong zeroed in on Chenoweth’s works on paper in the form of collages, prints, books and cards. Armstrong presents Chenoweth as a vanguard artist, with the selections revealing her sophisticated referencing of abstract expressionism and constructivism. Chenoweth’s picture-making involves assembling simple shapes — squares, rectangles, circles — and then arranging them into pleasing compositions. The shapes resemble doodles, having been drawn freely and without the aid of mechanical devices, and are employed not only as formal elements, but as blocks of color. Aside from being an expert in making elegant compositions, Chenoweth created striking, and often perfect, color contrasts. Through May 21 at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 30 West Dale Street, Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581, csfineartscenter.org. Read the review of FAC Legacy Series: Mary Chenoweth .

Sherry Wiggins, "Flower."
Sherry Wiggins, "Flower."
Photo by Luis Branco

Sherry Wiggins and Marietta Patricia Leis. Michael Warren Contemporary is currently featuring two back-to-back solos, each showcasing work created during artist residencies. First up is Sherry Wiggins: Meeting Her Again, made up of staged photos done by the well-known Boulder conceptualist during two residencies in Portugal. The photographs are self-portraits once removed. Wiggins had photographers record her restaging performances done originally by Helena Almeida, a Portuguese conceptual artist. Almeida, who worked for a time in Paris, was interested in collapsing performance, drawing, painting and photography into singular works, a pursuit that connects her work to that of her more famous contemporary Yves Klein. Opposite the Wiggins pieces is the other solo, Marietta Patricia Leis: Lost and Found in Iceland, which comprises drawings done during a residency in — where else? — Iceland. All of the Leis drawings are coolly elegant (pardon the pun), but the most compelling are those done on curved birch panels, which she has thoroughly covered with silvery gray graphite, lending them a quiet metallic sheen. Through May 27 at Michael Warren Contemporary, 760 Santa Fe Drive, 303-635-6255, michaelwarrencontemporary.com. Read the reviews of both the Wiggins and Leis shows.

"Cadillac Ranch, Don Stinson.
"Cadillac Ranch, Don Stinson.
Wes Magyar

Don Stinson. The paintings in Don Stinson: What Lies Between highlight the Western landscape, but artist Stinson adds conceptual content to his otherwise inspiring natural vistas by incorporating intrusive commercial elements into them. These infelicitous elements include tumbledown buildings or rusting signs, and they change the pictures from straightforward depictions of nature to commentaries on our society’s economic foibles and follies at the expense of the natural environment. However, these incursions into the wilderness are themselves old and somewhat charming, rendered lovingly by Stinson. This tames their deleterious effects and actually makes even the ugliest of them seem sort of appealing. In addition to including what could be called eyesores in the midst of the picturesque scenery, Stinson has also incorporated outdoor artworks and dramatic architecture. The artist, who lives in Evergreen, is considered to be one of the most significant contemporary realists active today — not just in Colorado, but throughout the West. Through June 3 at David B. Smith Gallery, 1543 A Wazee Street, 303-893-4234, davidbsmithgallery.com. Read the review of Don Stinson: What Lies Between.

Lanny DeVuono's "Terraforming #1."
Lanny DeVuono's "Terraforming #1."
Courtesy the artist and Goodwin Fine Art.

Lanny DeVuono and Linda Connor. At first glance, the mixed-media drawings that comprise Lanny DeVuono/Terraforming look like depictions of our western landscape, but they're actually invented scenes from extraterrestrial planets in outer space. DeVuono's taking-off point is the idea of “terraforming,” which means to engineer changes to a planet to make it more earth-like so that humans can live on it. The term originated in science fiction but is now used in real science. For DeVuono, terraforming refers to hypothetical vistas on distant planets that she imagines would appear much like those on Earth, and many of these views recall the look of the deserts and mountains of the Southwest. The DeVuono show at Goodwin has been paired with a photo show, Linda Connor/Gravity. Not only are these works different, being mechanically made rather than hand done, but they also take a different approach to the landscape. There are photos of sacred sites around the world, images that depict a fossilized sea bed, and some taken of the night sky through a telescope. Through June 3 at Tina Goodwin Fine Art, 1255 Delaware Street, 303-573-1255, goodwinfineart.com. Read the DeVuono and Connor reviews.

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