Whether he likes it or not, Lawrence Argent is going to be associated with the color blue because that's the color of his gigantic bear, which was only recently installed downtown at the Colorado Convention Center (see review,). Another Denver artist who's known for his taste for blue is Bryan Andrews, whose solo, Blueprint, is on display at Artyard Contemporary Sculpture (1251 South Pearl Street, 303-777-3219).
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For Argent, this specific color was a more or less arbitrary choice, but for Andrews it's literally in his blood. The shade of blue Andrews employs is meant to recall the color of his deceased grandfather's eyes and, by implication, his own. Every Andrews piece includes the blue color, but he uses it sparingly, mostly exposing the natural wood from which his works are created.
The recent sculptures in Blueprint are the latest in a series he's been doing over the last several years. For these, he's been attempting to reconcile the folk-art aesthetic he came to love during his childhood in the Ozarks with a contemporary art sensibility he's nurtured since moving to Denver as a young man in the 1990s. Over the years Andrews has created several series of mostly vertically oriented pieces, which seem to be simultaneously primitive and modern -- sort of like the artist himself. Andrews calls these sculptures "Fetems," a homemade contraction of "Fetish" and "Totem".
The new "Fetem" pieces that make up Blueprint are a continuation of his earlier concerns, but he's added a twist: the use of figural and representational imagery in otherwise abstract compositions. Compared to his earlier efforts, these new ones seem experimental. In truth, some of these experiments fizzle while others make the grade. The ones that don't work are too busy in form, while the best ones, such as "The Happy Wanderer" (above), are simple and chaste. These strike me as worthy examples of Andrews's signature work.
Blueprint runs though July 9 at Artyard Contemporary Sculpture.