Working Drawings, at the Philip J. Steele Gallery in the design building at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (6875 East Evans Avenue, 303-753-6046), is a charming little show. Steele director Lisa Spivak, who organized the show, invited the faculty and staff of RMCAD to participate, as well as off-campus artists who had exhibited in the Steele in the last five years. Spivak has run the place that long.
The show's title refers to the kind of drawings used in preparation or support of more ambitious -- and more complete -- works of art. Thus there are drawings for paintings, illustrations, graphic designs and sculptures, among others. There are a couple of finished presentation drawings, too, which don't quite qualify but look great anyway.
Two of these finished drawings are by regional sculptor Chuck Parson. In them, Parson formally lays out meanings and descriptions in carefully conceived written text for the sculptures he has depicted. Other artists, including post-minimalist painter Bruce Price and installation artist Virginia Folkestad, have made more informal sketches, but they have also included their concepts in written form. Some of the drawings are little more than doodles; others are thoroughly realized full-color models for paintings, like the untitled work on paper by Joe Clower seen above.
The stylistic range of the show is quite broad, with traditional pieces, such as those by Teddy Lee Schmedeke and Tom Newsom, hanging side by side with more contemporary works.
Interestingly, the use of working drawings isn't universal among artists, and it's been on the wane for a hundred years or so. When I was viewing this show, I ran into Anya Gola-Kumor, who's represented here by two sketches. "They're both from the 1970s," she says. "I don't do them anymore. I just paint directly on the canvas."
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Working Drawings is on display until July 14. -- Michael Paglia