This year's juried annual at Ice Cube Gallery, Icebreaker3, includes works selected by Denver Art Museum curator Gwen Chanzit, who also designed the installation. Though Chanzit took an inclusive approach, she laid out the show coherently by grouping together works with stylistic affinities.
Owing, no doubt, to Chanzit's position, a number of established artists who might not have been expected to enter a juried show entered this one — artists such as Joellyn Duesberry, Peter Illig, Irene Delka McCray, Susan Goldstein and Annalee Schorr. Most of the show, however, is populated with works by little-known artists, which is what makes it so interesting.
You can't miss the tornado funnel cloud of foam rubber and other materials by Pattie Lee Becker (pictured) that twists from floor to ceiling. Another example of a sculpture made from soft materials is the fuzzy stile by Karin Davis. A very different sensibility informs the anything-but-soft abstract sculpture constructed from pre-painted found metal by Maureen Hearty. And Wendy Franzen's piece is very nice, as are the split wood and aluminum panels by Mai Wyn Schantz. Among the abstract paintings are strong entries by Lydia Riegle and Adam Holloway.
In the relatively short span of three years, Ice Cube Gallery has rapidly risen to the top ranks of Denver's exhibition scene. The co-op's members do a lot of things right, and they have an impressive facility. But there is one thing that I think is wrong: Ice Cube members are allowed to enter the Icebreaker shows. This virtually unheard-of practice inevitably gives the appearance of favoritism, an impression only encouraged by the many members who wound up getting into the show. Even if the jurying was fairly done — which I'm absolutely sure it was, given Chanzit's character — it looks suspicious. When I was juror the first year, I made this complaint in person. Now I'm making it in print: The Ice Cubers need to recuse themselves next time.
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Icebreakers3 at Ice Cube (3320 Walnut Street, 303-292-1822, www.icecubegallery.com) closes February 25.