Plan a drive to Colorado Springs this weekend, to see the Floyd D. Tunson show at the Ent center before it closes; this is also your last chance to catch the current shows at Goodwin Fine Art. Keep reading for capsule reviews of those shows as well as eight more around town, in the order that they're closing.
Ashley Eliza Williams and Blanca Guerra Echeverria. In the capacious main gallery at Goodwin Fine Art is Ashley Eliza Williams: Anthropocene, with realistically rendered paintings of imaginary rocks paired with works on paper sporting invented scientific data. The idea underlying these works is that human presence is part of the natural record; "anthropocene" is the word scientists use to describe the past few thousand years of human impact on the planet. The other Goodwin solo, The Cyclical Glow: Blanca Guerra-Echeverria, comprises small-scale abstract ceramic sculptures that reference biological reproduction, specifically the artist’s personal hopes and fears regarding childbearing. The sculptures take on either simple shapes, such as the three-part “Multiplying Ovum” made up of a faceted orb, a sphere and a mound, or are assemblages of simple shapes, like the cluster of black and gold balls in “Veiled Loss.” Through April 14 at Goodwin Fine Art,1255 Delaware Street, 303-573-1255, goodwinfineart.com. Read the review of the Goodwin shows.
Floyd D. Tunson: Janus. This impressive solo is dominated by large paintings and installations by one of Colorado’s most significant contemporary artists. It’s the perfect show to launch the Marie Walsh Sharpe Gallery at the recently opened Ent Center for the Arts on the campus of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. Tunson works in a wide range of approaches, from neo-pop pieces with African-American content to abstracts. Curator Daisy McGowan focuses on this latter type; when viewers enter, they will invariably be drawn to the enormous “Untitled 147.” The mural-sized piece is an astounding 42-feet long and covers the expansive wall to the left. On multiple panels, Tunson has clustered rounded and rock-like colored shapes and mounded dots; on top of those, he’s painted a broad, flowing white line that turns in on itself repeatedly as it runs across the entire length. In a somewhat different vein is the unusual corner installation, “Homage to Senga,” in which Tunson salutes Senga Nengudi, a Colorado Springs-based conceptual artist. Nengudi’s signature is tensile features, and this Tunson uses bungees in response. Through April 15 at the Ent Center for the Arts, 5225 North Nevada Avenue, Colorado Springs, 1-719-255-8227, galleryuccs.org. Read our piece on the Ent Center and the Tunson show.
The Modern West. Colorado artists Tracy Felix and Sushe Felix, who are husband and wife, are also paired in The Modern West at the William Havu Gallery. Over the past several decades, Tracy and Sushe have developed interrelated signature styles that they carry out in similar palettes. Both are focused on creating parodies of historic Western landscape paintings, especially the modernist ones from the 1930s and ’40s — hence the show’s title. Despite their close associations in terms of subject and approach, however, both have developed distinctive styles that would be difficult to confuse with one another. Tracy and Sushe have been exhibiting in Colorado since the 1980s, but sculptor Andy Libertone, who is new to Havu, does them one decade better: He started showing in the ’70s. His pieces here are colorful and hieratical constructions that look like little buildings; this architectonic quality carries over into how Libertone constructed these sculptures, building them out of metal beams and sheets. Havu is also showing historical prints by Dale Chisman, Werner Drewes and Robert Ecker as part of Mo’Print: The Month of Photography. Through April 21 at William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360, williamhavugallery.com. Read the review of the Havu shows.
Suchitra Mattai. Installations dominate Suchitra Mattai: Sweet Asylum, an impressive exhibition at K Contemporary highlighting recent works, some made especially for this show, by the Denver-based artist. Mattai was born in Guyana, a former English colony in South America, to descendants of indentured servants from India; Indian motifs collide with English ones in her work. In one sense her art is about her ethnic identity, but it’s also about the whole topic of imperialism, and the complex relationships between colonizers and the colonized. Perfectly summing up her interests is “The Past Is Present,” which debuted at the LA Art Show earlier this year. A vinyl wrap printed with a pixilated scene based on a framed needlepoint has been applied directly to the wall, the squares of the pixilation referring directly to the yarn squares of the needlepoint process. This central image depicts slaves and a slave master in a tropical landscape that Mattai has altered with radiating lines emanating from a small boy and extending onto the wrap. While Mattai heavily relies on employing found objects, she’s established her own signature using components created by others. Through April 28 at K Contemporary,1412 Wazee Street, 303-590-9800, kcontemporaryart.com. Read the review of Suchitra Mattai: Sweet Asylum.
Burtynski, Dorfman, Forsman and Kitchel. Robischon is presenting four thematically interrelated solos about the environment that congeal into a seamlessly unified whole. The first is Edward Burtynsky: Selected Work, which includes characteristic photos by the internationally-known Canadian photographer whose genius lies in the way he juxtaposes damage in the landscape to the countervailing visual majesty of the landscape. The sensibility shifts subtly as the next solo, Elena Dorfman: Transmutations, unfolds. These landscapes explore Dorfman’s ancestry in Albania and the surrounding countries with photographic images collaged into unified vistas; metallic leaf applied to the resulting prints lends them a hallucinogenic quality. The largest of the four solos, Chuck Forsman: Hard Seasons, explores in-depth the photos and paintings by an acknowledged master of Colorado art. Forsman was part of a national movement of artists interested in recording environmental damage, and Colorado was an early center for that. The last of the four is Karen Kitchel: Austerity Measures, and features paintings in which she creates fanatically accurate depictions of wild grasses. Through May 5 at Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee Street, 303-298-7788, robischongallery.com. Read the full review of the four Robischon solos.
Liz Nielsen & Dylan Gebbia-Richards/Michelle Blade. David B. Smith Gallery is presenting an elegant duet, Liz Nielsen & Dylan Gebbia-Richards, showcasing a pair of artists who explore new directions in abstraction. New York-based Nielsen offers juicy, non-objective photograms that seem like updated versions of color-field works in which shape and shade are interchangeable. The compositions are vaguely geometric, organized in casually regulated compositions that she creates instinctually. Gebbia-Richards is from Boulder, and is surely one of Colorado’s most significant emerging artists. He is represented by a trio of monumental panels covered in wax that’s been applied in innumerable coats using specialized machines. The wax piles up in stalagmites rising off the surface, and the different colors of the waxes are revealed in stratified layers. The overall effect is like a contemporary reinterpretation of mid-century abstract expressionism. As an added attraction, Michelle Blade: Night Visions, an intimate show of smallish, mildly surrealistic watercolors by the Oregon artist, is installed in the project room in back. All through May 12 at David B. Smith Gallery, 1543 #A Wazee Street, 303-893-4234, davidbsmithgallery.com. Read the full review of the David B. Smith shows.
Arthur Jafa. Arthur Jafa: Love Is the Message, the Message Is Death is dominated by a seven-minute video projection. Though Jafa is a cinematographer who works with the likes of Beyoncé and Jay-Z, for this title piece, “Love Is the Message, the Message Is Death,” he used found films and videos sourced from the Internet, many still with the watermarks of their copyright owners. The different clips include instances of police brutality against black men, racist silent films, shots of civil rights icons and black celebrities and athletes; at one point there’s the footage of President Barack Obama singing “Amazing Grace.” They move very fast, and the whole thing is set to Kanye West’s “Ultralight Beam,” which he performed with a gospel choir. The clips display complex and at times contradictory meanings, pitting instances of black people being mistreated and vilified against other instances in which they are shown succeeding despite the obstacle of pervasive racism. This is a rare example of a riveting fine-art video. Through May 13 at MCA Denver, 1485 Delgany Street, 303-298-7554, mcadenver.org. Read the full review of the MCA's current shows.
Diego Rodriguez-Warner. The eye-popping Diego Rodriguez-Warner: Honestly Lying showcases paintings depicting complex deconstructions of the figure done in toned-up colors. Rodriguez-Warner is a young artist whose career has been on a decidedly upward trajectory. He was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Denver; he studied art in Cuba and received his MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. Curated by Zoe Larkins, this solo is over the top, with the entry wall hung salon-style so that the show starts off with a riot of colors and images. Rodriguez-Warner comes out of the printmaking tradition; you see evidence of this in the shallow carvings he makes in the surfaces of the plywood panels on which he paints. Looking over the dizzying mass of images that Rodriguez-Warner assembles, you begin to see that many of them come from the history of art, with sources including Japanese prints and Matisse. Also reflecting the history of art is the way in which many of these works seem to be parodying old paintings, in particular history paintings. Through May 13 at MCA Denver, 1485 Delgany Street, 303-298-7554, mcadenver.org. Read the full review of the MCA's current shows.
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Cleon Peterson. An enormous vinyl wrap currently covers two sides of MCA Denver: It’s the first component of the impressive solo Cleon Peterson: Shadows of Men. Peterson’s imagery, both outside the museum and up on the second floor, consists of of aggressive men (and a few women) reduced to conventionalized and abstract forms so that at first they look like camouflage instead of what they are: people in combat. Sometimes the figures have been blown up to enormous sizes, as with the building wrap and some murals. At other times, in small paintings and porcelain figurines, the combative figures are represented in diminutive versions. There’s an undeniable classicism to Peterson’s work that evokes the art of ancient Greece, in particular ceramics. The footnote to antiquity is no accident, since Peterson believes that violence has typically been associated with the Greco-Roman tradition, right up to the Nazis. But those classical principles might also explain how effectively Peterson’s figures can be scaled up and down while still retaining their key characteristics. Through May 27 at MCA Denver, 1485 Delgany Street, 303-298-7554, mcadenver.org. Read the full review of the MCA's current shows.
Near and Far. The new Kirkland Museum has a feature the old one didn’t: a gallery for temporary exhibits. For the premiere show in this space, Hugh Grant, the Kirkland’s director, has put together a print exhibit that has the paragraph-length title of Near and Far: Contrasting Regional and National Prints From the Kirkland and Mayer Collections. The enormous show includes more than eighty prints, most dating from the early to mid-twentieth century. There are several marvelous regionalist prints by the artists associated with the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center School and its predecessor, the Broadmoor Academy; these are at the top of the field for the period, with exemplars by the likes of Boardman Robinson, Adolf Deh and Frank Mechau. Of course, Vance Kirkland is also represented. The Colorado-associated artists are seen alongside big-league 1930s all-stars, including Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton and Edward Hopper. The pre-World War II era was a heyday for American printmaking, particularly here in Colorado, but the show also includes mid-century modern prints by artists such as Mary Chenoweth and Werner Drewes, both of whom embraced abstraction. Through June 17 at the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, 1201 Bannock Street, 303-832-8576, kirklandmuseum.org.