Haven't been to the new Kirkland museum yet? There's not a moment to waste: The opening temporary exhibit, Near and Far, ends this weekend. Not far away at the Rule Gallery, Jason DeMarte: Adorned is also closing. Keep reading for capsule reviews of those shows, as well as six more worth seeing around town, in the order that they're ending.
Jason DeMarte. In Adorned, Jason DeMarte riffs on art history, name-checking early photographers Oscar Gustave Rejlander and Julia Margaret Cameron. DeMarte describes them as “pioneers in manipulating truth in the medium,” instead of simply objectively recording external reality with a camera. Rejlander and Cameron, who worked separately, were interested in creating fictional realities in photos, and to do that, they cut up negatives to develop the analogue ancestor of Photoshop. DeMarte does much the same thing but uses the tried-and-true Photoshop in its digital form, putting the elements together in a program on a screen, and then having prints made of the results. Sometimes, as in “Fog of Tranquility,” DeMarte has inserted, tweaked and manipulated the dozens of individual elements of the picture over a hundred times. In order to pull off what he’s doing — credibly conveying artificial landscapes — he needed to become an expert at matching the light and shadow effects among the disparate components. Not only are these masterful and compelling, they’re also unbelievably beautiful in the conventional sense of that term. Through June 16 at Rule Gallery, 530 Santa Fe Drive, 303-800-6776, rulegallery.com. Read the review of Adorned.
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.
Kristen Hatgi Sink. The title of Kristen Hatgi Sink’s show, Milk, indicates the anchor content displayed in her conceptual photos. Sink uses milk, flooding the floor (actually a shallow pool) or being poured over her models in her photos, sourcing it as a multifarious metaphor. Milk represents the promised land of abundance, and that’s just the launching point for Sink as she meditates on the meaning of the milk she uses. There’s its white color, which represents purity, lightness, innocence, maternity, etc., but it also conjures up white supremacy and, by extension, the exploitation of the non-white world through imperialism. In “Bianca, Lamb, Citrus, Flowers, Milk,” a young girl with a peaches-and-cream complexion is seen sitting and holding a white lamb. On either side are citrus trees, and across the ground, African violets. The trees and the flowers have been removed from their pots and are partly submerged in milk that covers the floor; one of the little girl’s feet is also in the milk. The Christian imagery of the cherubic girl and the lamb represent the dark side of colonialism, with the West imposing Christianity on the colonized peoples while taking away their wealth: the violets. Through June 23 at Gildar Gallery, 82 South Broadway, 303-993-4474, gildargallery.com. Read the full review of Milk.
Mark Makers. Walker Fine Art director Bobbi Walker takes a wide-open view of the meaning of Mark Makers, the current show's title. Not only does she include artists who make marks, but also those interested in metaphorical mark-making. The latter category includes Julie Maren, who provides several wall installations made of natural materials. Beyond those are neo-futurist compositions by Ellen Moershel, made up of slashing and arching marks that may have been made quickly, but the paint is strictly controlled. Even tighter are the abstract paintings employing vaguely celestial shapes by Brigan Gresh. The back spaces showcase some recent abstracts by Mary Mackey. These watercolors reduced to tones and shadows, with extensive areas of bare paper dominating their appearance, have a classic, modernist look. On the opposite side are a lineup of Patricia Finley’s handsome resin paintings, compositions of linear drips against deeply colored grounds. But the greatest stretch of the phrase “mark makers” has to be sculptor Brandon Reese, unless you think of three-dimensional work as marking space. Through July 7 at Walker Fine Art, 300 West 11th Avenue, #A, 303-355-8955, walkerfineart.com. Read the full review of Mark Makers.
Finding Home. In Finding Home, a trio of artists offer installations that take on the topic of the local housing shortage. Curator Eriq Hochuli chose the three artists — Ramón Bonilla, Lauri Lynnxe Murphy and Pam Fortner— but did not choose the works themselves, since all were created for this show. In the first space, Bonilla has painted the walls a blackboard black and done geometric constructivist drawings in dashes of chalk white. These drawings wrap around the room, a continuous composition of transparent architectonic shapes that interlock with one another; an audio component broadcasts negative Yelp reviews of a building where the artist once lived. Lauri Lynnxe Murphy fills the adjacent space with "Fool's Gold," equating the worthless mineral with cheap buildings going up everywhere. She uses found construction materials that litter the landscape and fill the dumpsters of Denver, draping the materials around the half-circular bay window wall. The last of the three installations is “Notice to Quit” by Pam Fortner, an elaborate game in which precariously balanced tiny houses are tipped over, spilling their tiny inhabitants onto the ground. Through July 8 at Foothills Art Center, 809 Fifteenth Street, Golden, 303-279-3922, foothillsartcenter.org. Read the review of Finding Home .
Ellingson, Larsen, McNeil, Petley and Stone. This series of five sensitively interconnected solos begins with Amy Ellingson: Sweetbitter Beast, which features some eye-popping paintings, prints and a closely associated installation, all of which display the deft assembling of disparate elements organized into all-over — or would-be all-over — compositions, like fresh takes on abstract expressionism. Next is Ted Larsen: Act Naturally, which comprises the artist’s novel hybrid of constructivism and expressionism in the form of wall-relief sculptures. Bookending the Larsen show is Kate Petley: Repositioned, in the window space, and in the larger back gallery, Marcelyn McNeil: Lead Heavy Feather Light; each artist creates simple yet bold abstractions that are so visually dazzling, they almost jump off the wall. Petley’s pieces read as paintings but are actually collages moored by photographs that depict mundane materials like cardboard. McNeil’s paintings are lyrical and have something of a Helen Frankenthaler lightness and simplicity, along with that artist's dreamy palette. The last of the quintet of single-artist shows at Robischon is Katy Stone: Transmissions, installed in the intimate viewing room. Stone sometimes works in laser-cut aluminum that’s been painted. Through July 14 at Robischon Gallery,1740 Wazee Street, 303-298-7788, robischongallery.com. Read the full review of the current Robischon shows.
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Jeffrey Gibson. The paintings, installations, wall-hangings and sculptures in Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer, ably curated by John Lukavic, are relentlessly eye-dazzling. Everything has a pronounced Native American character, while at the same time is clearly part of the broader international contemporary art world. Gibson started working in the late 1990s; a decade later, feeling misunderstood, he destroyed much of his earlier work, in some cases washing the canvases. Then in 2011 he began to create his most significant pieces, some of them incorporating the earlier, destroyed work. Gibson’s arguable claim to fame is the series of adorned punching bags, which beginswith Everlast punching bags that he covers, save for their labels, in beads, cloth, bangles, jingles, studs and fringe. The inspiration for many of the accents and the bold colors come out of the powwow aesthetic, including the dresses worn by women dancers, lending a gender-bending quality to the macho punching bags. Through August 12 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, denverartmuseum.org. Read the full review of Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer.
Mike Whiting. This summer’s sculpture show at the Denver Botanic Gardens is Pixelated: Sculpture by Mike Whiting. The DBG’s Jen Tobias chose more than a dozen of the artist’s signature boxy sculptures, representing various recognizable things including objects, animals, birds and people; the hard edges of his forms beautifully contrast with the soft edges of the plantings at the gardens. Whiting is interested in both conventionalizing and reducing his subjects by employing obsolete 8-bit digital technology used for early video games like Pac-Man. To start, Whiting takes the pixels on the screen, employing them as building blocks to “construct” the outlines of the forms; the digital sketches are then translated into sculptures made from thick plates of steel formed into boxes. The outlines of these boxes are their chief defining feature. Whiting conceives of the flat sides of the sculptures as canvases, which he covers in atmospheric abstract paintings in Easter egg colors. According to Whiting, these dull and mottled surfaces are meant to evoke the sun-faded and scratched paint jobs of old pickup trucks. Through September 23 at the Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York Street, 720-865-3500, botanicgardens.org. Read the full review of Pixelated.