The current show at Denver's modest but highly regarded Artyard Sculpture Gallery (1251 South Pearl Street, 303-777-3219) features the latest body of work by Carley Warren, a famous name in local sculpture circles. The exhibit, Burdens, highlights the artist's signature style with a group of her familiar wooden sculptures, which are delicate and vulnerable-looking.
Warren, who lives in Golden, has been showing her art in the Denver area since the 1960s. She initially worked in a variety of mediums, but in the 1970s increasingly turned to sculpture and installation. Also important was her interest in feminist narrative themes, a sensibility that was right in line with the times. This sort of thing also had an effect on a younger generation of feminist artists in Denver during the '80s and '90s, a number of whom made their own reputations with work that was partly inspired by Warren's example.
Burdens starts with a group of wall-mounted, bracket-like wood sculptures. Hanging from dowels on the brackets are bundles of objects, most held in place by handwoven fishnet. The dowels bend under the weight of their burdens -- hence the show's title. In the middle of the room is "Burdens #1" (above), a forest of freestanding versions using the same idea.
In her artist statement, Warren lays out the idea that the sculptures in Burdens incorporate the juxtaposition of opposites. Describing her pieces, she writes that they are "quick and slow, rough and smooth, hard and soft, rigid and pliable, obvious and incongruous." I'd add that her work demonstrates her interest in fine craftsmanship, her judicious material choices, and her ability to imbue non-objective forms with deep psychological meanings.
One remarkable aspect of Warren's style is how puritanical she is in terms of color. Except for a touch of red here and there, almost everything in the show is limited to two subtle shades: golden brown and flat black. This simple palette and the small scale of Warren's sculptures help make the gallery's diminutive exhibition space look grand.
Burdens is on view at Artyard through March 13.
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