John Matlack: Bridges, Fishes, and Boats

Of the various alternative spaces in Denver, Spark Gallery (900 Santa Fe Drive, 720-889-2200) has more than its share of established artists as members. Surely this explains why Spark is a flagship of the Santa Fe Arts District. It is one of only a handful of places along the row where you always expect to find something that's at least interesting -- if not actually good. The two solos on view there right now are both interesting and good.

In the west room, which faces Santa Fe, there's a very elegant JUDITH COHN: CONSTRUCTIONS. Cohn does abstract sculptures -- typically slab-built or made from clay coils -- and they always refer to Japanese ceramics. Sometimes her pieces look like critiques of Japanesque forms, such as her "Loops," which suggest bottomless ikebana bowls, or the pieces in CONSTRUCTIONS that appear to be vessels but have no openings.

Using rectangles of clay that reminded me of shingles, Cohn builds up multifaceted forms (pictured). She typically uses terra cotta and expressively applies her glazes so that the color of the clay shows through. In a handful of these pieces, Cohn used black clay, which is also partly visible through the glaze.

From my point of view, Cohn is way underrated considering her very apparent talent, and it's inexplicable that she hasn't been the subject of a major museum or art-center exhibit.



Spark Gallery

900 Santa Fe Drive, 720-889-2200

In the east room, facing Ninth Avenue, there's John Matlack: Bridges, Fishes, and Boats, showcasing the artist's signature combination of abstraction and representation. The exhibit is heterogeneous, with the two abstract paintings and the one infrared photo montage seemingly out of step with the rest of the show. The main thrust of Bridges, Fishes, and Boats is a group of monotypes incorporating photo transfers of -- you guessed it -- bridges, fishes and boats.

These two worthwhile diversions run through Saturday, November 11. "Coffee With the Artists," with Cohn and Matlack, is scheduled for noon to 5 p.m. that same day. -- Michael Paglia


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