Don Stinson, Chuck Forsman and Eric Paddock/Jim Colbert. The Western landscape's natural beauty has taken hold of the imagination of generations of artists, but during the last twenty years, some have chosen to examine the stickier topic of civilization's affect on the scenery. This intellectual approach is the collective theme of a group of exhibits at Robischon Gallery. In the front is Don Stinson: Art and Ruins, which includes three monumental representational paintings of three separate conceptual earthworks from the '60s and '70s along with his more familiar views of abandoned drive-ins and motels. In the middle spaces is Chuck Forsman, which is made up of photos from the artist's book, Western Rider: Views From a Car Window. Forsman is best known as a painter, but it turns out that he has also been taking photos for decades. In the Viewing Room Gallery is Eric Paddock/Jim Colbert, which combines Western landscape photos from Paddock's book, Belonging to the West, with paintings of the same subject by Colbert. Through April 10 at the Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee Street, 303-298-7788. Reviewed April 1.
Evan. For the first show at Capsule on Santa Fe, director Lauri Lynnxe Murphy chose to feature the work of her old friend and fellow ILK co-op founder, Evan Colbert. Not all of the pieces in the wonderful solo are new; a few were done years ago, when Colbert had his studio in this same building, which ILK occupied. This makes Colbert the perfect choice and a sentimental favorite for Capsule's debut. Colbert, who appears courtesy of + Zeile/Judish, has explored conceptualism over the past several years by combining minimalism with pop art, most notably in his well-known and widely heralded "paint chip" paintings, which pair a square of color with an evocative word. Though Evan does not include any of these, the pieces that are in the show clearly represent outgrowths of them. One of the standouts is a perfect example: a multi-part painting of Target's logo on a series of tondos. Another that relates back to Colbert's paint chips is called "A few of my favorite things," which combines words such as "food" with fields of warm colors, including orange and red. It's a very smart show. Through May 1 at Capsule, 554 Santa Fe Drive, 303-623-3460.
Full Frontal: Contemporary Asian Art From the Logan Collection. The normal stock in trade for the Denver Art Museum's Asian-art curator, Ron Otsuka, is traditional styles, but he's been drafted into doing contemporary duty by a gift that includes more than a score of pieces by Asian and Asian-American artists. The recently acquired booty provided Otsuka with the opportunity to explore new Asian art in Full Frontal: Contemporary Asian Art From the Logan Collection, now on display in the William Sharpless Jackson Jr. Gallery on the museum's fifth floor. Most of the standouts are neo-pop, such as Yu Youhan's "Mao Decorated," which is based not on the famous traditional portrait, but on Warhol's version. The frontrunner in the current generation of Chinese artists, Zhang Huan, is not a pop artist, however, but a conceptualist; he's represented by a photo that documents a performance in which he coated his body with ground hot dogs and then had actual dogs lick it off him. The show may be small, but it's bold. Through May 23 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 1-888-903-0278. Reviewed December 11, 2003.
Hidden Images. On the mezzanine of Denver's Museum of Contemporary Art is Hidden Images, which is dedicated to recent work by major contemporary Czech artist Adéla Matasová. The show is made up of a handful of things, including a group of conceptual installations that reconcile minimalism to movement. Three of the pieces in Hidden Images turn the concept of color-field painting on its head, because Matasová added a kinetic feature that gives the works changing surfaces and, therefore, changing imagery. To create them, she stretched silver-colored elastic fabric over large, rectangular frameworks; hidden underneath are mechanical features that push forms out from the back of the fabric, thus creating shifting shadow patterns. The pieces are gorgeous and extremely smart, making the show both captivating and provocative. The mezzanine at the MCA is ordinarily used for overflow from downstairs shows instead of as a separate exhibition venue, as it is for Hidden Images -- and clearly the latter is a better use for it. Through May 9 at Denver's Museum of Contemporary Art, 1275 19th Street, 303-298-7554. Reviewed March 11.
IGOR MOUKHIN. Camera Obscura Gallery is presenting an impressive solo, IGOR MOUKHIN: Contemporary Russian Photography, which examines the work of one of the former Soviet Union's most famous contemporary photographers. Moukhin gained prominence in the 1980s as part of a generation of underground artists who emerged in Moscow during the final years of Soviet rule. One series, started at that time, recorded crumbling Soviet monuments, while another comprised portraits of Russian artists, including those who fled to the West. There's no question, however, that the photographer's candid street shots, done both in his home town and in Paris, are what established his international reputation. The show at Camera Obscura includes many of his most famous images, including several of those street photos. Interestingly, this offering is one of two Moukhin exhibits being presented locally; the other is at the Hatton Gallery on the Colorado State University campus, where Moukhin is a visiting artist this term. Through May 2 at Camera Obscura Gallery, 1309 Bannock Street, 303-623-4059.
Kinetic Sculpture and Robot Show. For the fourth year in a row, Andenken Gallery has had young Denver sculptor Joe Riché organize a show that highlights the relationship between art and machines. Just like the previous three outings, this year's version is called the Kinetic Sculpture and Robot Show. Riché is the ideal choice for such an undertaking, not only because he's one of the city's top kinetic artists, but also because he's one of the original ringleaders of the Motoman Project, a mostly male troupe of performance artists who build sculptures only to blow them up, among other things. Riché included his own work in the show, as well as the work of another Motoman founder, Zach Smith. In past years, Riché limited the artists invited to his immediate circle of friends, but this time he's done some outreach, in the process snagging Robert Mangold, the dean of Colorado sculptors. Mangold is represented by one of his "PTTSAAES" sculptures, which, though not technically kinetic, does imply movement. Through May 1 at Andenken Gallery, 2110 Market Street, 303-292-3281.
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Over a Billion Served. The main winter exhibit at Denver's Museum of Contemporary Art is by Julie Segraves, executive director of Denver's Asian Art Coordinating Council, who brought together photos by eleven important conceptual artists now working in China. Conceptual photography is new in China, but so is photography itself, with the widespread availability of cameras dating back only to the 1980s. Segraves has divided the show into three parts: "Strangers in the Cities," which examines the effect of social change on the Chinese people; "Power Politics," which looks at the effect of the Chinese Communist Party; and "The McDonaldization of China," which is self-explanatory. This exhibit is absolutely awesome, and the photos in it are so unusual and so good that they will leave a lasting impression on anyone who sees them. Through May 9 at Denver's Museum of Contemporary Art, 1275 19th Street, 303-298-7554. Reviewed February 19.
3 Search and Converge in the Creative. The Sandy Carson Gallery is the flagship art venue in the Santa Fe Arts district. Its high-quality exhibitions are the reason why -- and the current offering is just the latest example. The impressive exhibit fills the gallery's entire multi-part space, with recent sculptures by Nancy Lovendahl filling the rooms up front. A prominent artist who lives in Snowmass, Lovendahl has long been part of the art scene. She works in ceramics, wood and cast paper, and her abstract pieces typically refer to nature. The photo-based digital images by Lorelei Schott from Boulder, which are displayed in a side gallery, also refer to nature, with the most compelling of the group being from her "Mothblur" series. The show concludes with a tightly focused series of abstract paintings by one of Denver's most noteworthy emerging artists, Jim White. Surprisingly, the essentially abstract-expressionist paintings of scribbled gray lines on an off-white field are based on the landscape -- just like everything else here. Through May 1 at the Sandy Carson Gallery, 760 Santa Fe Drive, 303-573-8585. Reviewed April 1.
Wet Paint. Though this is being billed as a group show, Wet Paint at the William Havu Gallery is actually a combination of three strong and expansive solos. In the front space, and in the nooks and crannies around it, are Jeffrey Keith's recent all-over abstractions that loosely refer to geometric abstraction. In the window space and around the base of the staircase are abstracts that are densely populated with John Himmelfarb's drawn elements, some of them cartoonish. And finally, in the space in the middle and under the mezzanine are Michael Rubin's out-of-this-world neo-abstract-expressionist monochrome paintings. All three artists' paintings are closely related stylistically, but each has a distinctly different approach, so there's no mistaking who's who. Because the three artists live and work in different big cities, with Keith here in Denver, Himmelfarb in Chicago, and Rubin in New York, Wet Paint proves that classic contemporary abstraction is still relevant. Through April 10 at the William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360. Reviewed March 18.