The fall art season is in full swing, but it's not too late to catch Mi Tierra at the Denver Art Museum. The Arvada Center's big show for fall, Art & Conflict, is also up, as is Water Line at the Center for Visual Arts. Keep reading for capsule reviews of these shows as well as more around Denver, in the order that they're closing.
Allison Stewart and Heidi Jung. Taking over the entire set of front spaces at Michael Warren Contemporary is Skyfaring: New Works by Allison Stewart, an ambitious solo providing an in-depth look at recent paintings by Allison Stewart, a New Orleans-based artist who also maintains a studio in Snowmass Village. For most of these paintings, Stewart began with an impression in her mind’s eye of an aerial view of the landscape. She then translated that vision into layered abstractions in which linear elements are juxtaposed with organically derived shapes. Abstraction plays a much more limited role in a solo on view in the back gallery, Travels: New Works by Heidi Jung. These latest pieces by Denver-area artist Heidi Jung, who has long been interested in creating drawings of natural subjects, are renderings of plants that, despite impressionistic handling, are still clearly representational. That impressionist part is achieved by Jung through the use of sumi ink and charcoal on Mylar, as well as through directed erasures that she uses to selectively remove parts of the otherwise realistic imagery. Through October 21 at Michael Warren Contemporary, 760 Santa Fe Drive, 303-636-6255, michaelwarrencontemporary.com. Read the full review of the shows at Michael Warren.
Water Line and Propagate. The big fall show at Metro State’s Center for Visual Art is the ambitious Water Line: A Creative Exchange, which takes up the topic of water as a threatened resource. It was curated by Cecily Cullen, the CVA’s managing director, who selected conceptual artists who address environmental topics. The sensibilities of the participants are so varied that Water Line functions like a sequence of wholly separate presentations as much as it does a thematically organized group show. Native American artist Cannupa Hanska Luger explores the dangers of the Dakota Access Pipeline, while Aurora Robson uses discarded plastics to make her lyrical sculptures. Melting ice is on the minds of Natascha Seideneck, represented by photos and videos, and Anna McKee, who explicates the disappearing ice sheet with a spectacular installation. The chaser for the show is Propagate: A Backyard Revolution, in the student-run 965 Gallery, where curator Amber Micciche brought together installations by Meredith Feniak and Eileen Roscina Richardson. Through October 21 at the MSUD Center for Visual Art, 965 Santa Fe Drive, 303-294-5207, msudenver.edu/cva. Read the full review of Water Line and Propagate.
Mi Tierra. This ambitious exhibition was curated by Rebecca Hart, who has given the show the entire fourth level of the Hamilton Building, with each artist assigned a defined section for his or her site-specific installation. The selected artists are all Mexican-American, and all are emerging artists who are working conceptually. Among the most powerful installations are those that take on politics directly, such as Daisy Quezada’s “Desplazamiento/Contención (Displacement/Containment),” a starkly elegant installation with an audio component about undocumented immigrants. Another piece that’s politically charged is Jaime Carrejo’s “One-Way Mirror,” one of the standouts both visually and conceptually, with the topic being the borderlands. Some of the artists championed Mexican culture — most notably, Justin Favela, whose “Fridalandia” is an entire room done up as a piñata. Everything in Mi Tierra has something to do with the European colonization of the New World, but none addresses it as directly as "Destinies Manifest," a projected digital animation by John Jota Leaños. Through October 22 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, denverartmuseum.org. Read the full review of Mi Tierra.
Rebecca Cuming and David Hicks. The magisterial paintings that make up Rebecca Cuming: XXI Century Field operate on two distinct levels. They’re lyrical floral abstractions, but they also make political statements. A good example is “Kandahar,” which depicts a field of red flowers done with little more than splashes of pigment. The political content is more subtle and has to do with the type of flower rendered in association with the title. They’re poppies, and Kandahar is a province in Afghanistan, making the real subject the opium trade. The ceramic sculptures in David Hicks: Stone Flora & Blue Cuttings also use flowers to convey an ideological subtext. Despite their appearance, the sculptures are about the artist’s disconnection from nature, as he views the farm country around his home through the windshield of his car as he zooms by it. Probably the clearest expression of this separation from nature are the sculptures that comprise elaborate supporting frameworks of welded metal rods onto which ceramic elements have been mounted. Through October 28 at Tina Goodwin Fine Art, 1255 Delaware Street, 303-573-1255, goodwinfineart.com. Read the review of Rebecca Cuming and David Hicks.
Experimental Surroundings. Walker Fine Art is hosting a sprawling group effort titled Experimental Surroundings that includes pieces by a half-dozen artists, with each doing distinctive pieces. The show begins in the double-height window space, where a handful of pieces by Melissa Borrell have been installed. Dominating the display is “The Fractal Nature of Things,” an enormous wall installation made of interlocking wooden circles. Next up is a nice selection of paintings by Heather Patterson, who takes a more-is-more approach to landscape-based abstraction. Not unrelated are paintings by Deidre Adams, though the respective artists’ work looks nothing alike. Also striking a cross between abstraction and representation are wood assemblages by Chris DeKnikker, which are all tondos. Kim Ferrer works in wood, too, and she’s created a multi-part installation that expresses her move from the country to the city. Taking the middle of the floor is a set of large sculptures by David Mazza. Tall and narrow, they’re made of mild steel and polished stainless steel and highlight nicely the contrast between the dull patination and the mirror finish of the two materials. Through November 4 at Walker Fine Art, 300 West 11th Avenue, #A, 303-355-8955, walkerfineart.com. Read the review of Experimental Surroundings.
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William Stockman. Denver artist William Stockman emerged as an art star back in the 1990s, making a place for himself in the art scene via ambitious solos filled with beautifully crafted, nominally representational works with enigmatic subject matter. And he’s still at it, as seen in the marvelous William Stockman: After Thought, now at Gildar Gallery. The paintings here represent a straightforward continuation of the aesthetic and narrative interests that Stockman has explored all along, (birds, the nature of the figure, conveying emotion), yet some are notably more painterly than usual. Although drawing continues to be the basis of Stockman’s art, with pronounced drawn elements anchoring the works in this show, some pieces move further away from it, including the wildly expressionistic “Castor and Pollux” and the more constrained but equally exuberant “New Invasive Species,” which brings together multiple experimental approaches seen singly in other paintings. Through November 4 at Gildar Gallery, 82 South Broadway, 303-993-4474, gildargallery.com. Read the review of William Stockman: After Thought.
Art & Conflict. The Arvada Center’s main exhibit this fall, Art & Conflict, fills the six galleries on the center’s lower level with pieces in a range of mediums by nearly four dozen artists, almost all of them living and working in Colorado. The theme of the show is inherently political, and some of the selected artists have long made such content a keystone, while others embrace it within the context of their existing signature styles. Standouts include the painting of Rocky Flats by Jeffrey Gipe, part Western landscape, part chilling commentary. A similar combination is seen in Bug’s installation, where the bones representing dozens of genocides are set out on tables arranged for a banquet. Several works comment on the Trump era, including an inflated torch from the BAAM Collective standing upright in the atrium and Roger Reutimann’s metallic-green android based on the Statue of Liberty; the cartoon video by Tony Ortega addresses Trump’s anti-Mexican views. There are also abstracts that take up the subject of war, including those by Sangeeta Reddy and Sue Simon. Through November 12 at the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Boulevard, 720-898-7200, arvadacenter.org/galleries. Read the review of Art & Conflict.
See more art gallery listings in the Westword calendar.