One of the handsomest and best exhibition spaces in town is in an artist cooperative, of all places: the main space at Ice Cube Gallery. Upon entry, visitors are confronted by a large room, cut up by moveable walls and topped with a high ceiling, that's ideal for displaying art. This is interesting, considering that the historic building housing Ice Cube was originally constructed not as a showroom but as a factory for the production of dry ice.
Currently, Ice Cube is hosting a pair of member solos that are conceptually related to one another — and look good as a pair.
Regina Benson: Future Ruins features the latest installation from this well-known Colorado fiber artist. This piece, which has multiple parts, is experiential, since viewers are encouraged to wander through — but it's also unexpectedly architectonic. The front space is filled with towers evocative of skyscrapers or columns, both free-standing and wall-mounted.
Ice Cube Gallery
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To make them, Benson has employed found materials. The vertical thrust of the freestanding works is the result of hidden armatures anchored by thrift-shop lamps. The surfaces are used bed covers, covered with rust marks, that have been cut to fit the armatures. In a small back gallery, Benson has displayed her tools — the metal items she used to encourage rust — which are presented as though they were sculptures.
Benson is paired with Ray Tomasso: Forgotten Latitudes. Tomasso is the dean of Colorado paper-making, and these recent pieces demonstrate why. Tomasso has covered the walls in the space to the southeast and the niche behind with a dazzling array of neo-abstract-expressionist three-dimensional wall panels such as "The Lost Sea" (pictured), most of them monumental.
Like Benson, Tomasso uses found materials, but unlike her, he changes their nature. Tomasso shreds and renders blue jeans into pulp, which is then cast in molds to create the expressive topography of his bas-reliefs. The colors are not integral to the newly created paper, but have been applied after casting, revealing Tomasso's skill not only as a paper-maker and sculptor, but as a painter, as well.
The Benson and Tomasso solos at Ice Cube, 3320 Walnut Street, 303-292-1822, icecubegallery.com, run through September 14.