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.
Jason Appleton and Eric Adrian Lee. There's an intriguing solo installed in the Associates' Space at Pirate. Jason Appleton begins with a group of large pottery blanks in traditional shapes that are finished in Appleton's idiosyncratic figural drawings in bold colors. These striking pots are vaguely Picassoid, as are Appleton's intimate paintings, which make up the main attraction of this show. Appleton uses shiny and wildly colored pigments for the paintings, and that is probably why they look like they've been done with glazes. Remarkable surfaces are also featured in another strong solo, Eric Adrian Lee: Recent Paintings in the ILK @ Pirate space. His pieces are very different, with a dull sheen and a quiet palette that's dominated by black and off-white. Lee applies layers of paint and then scrapes and peels it in places. He also employs non-compatible materials that react to one another by cracking and flaking. The results are very compelling. Through April 18 at Pirate: A Contemporary Art Oasis, 3659 Navajo Street, 303-458-6058.
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Painting a New World. There are no famous artists in the Denver Art Museum's current blockbuster, but even without that kind of draw, it really shouldn't be missed. Donna Pierce, the museum's curator of Spanish Colonial art organized it in-house, which means that it's a rare bird -- a traveling show that's actually departing from Denver instead of arriving here. The local origin is reason enough to check it out, but there are fifty other reasons, too: the magnificent paintings. Pierce started working on the project in 1999, when she was hired. Many of the pieces are from the collection of Jan and Fred Mayer, longtime museum donors, but Pierce not only hunted for things here in town, she also searched for them in the museums and private collections of Mexico and Europe. Many of the works on display are the kind of things we'd expect -- Spanish baroque religious paintings -- but others are completely unexpected, such as two unforgettable paintings carried out in feathers, an art form associated with the Aztecs. Through July 25 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000.
POLI VESTURE. Susan Goldstein is one of the best experimental fine-art photographers in the region, and her annual solo at the Edge Gallery, POLI VESTURE: Photographic Images From a Catholic Statue Factory, proves it. Poli Vesture was a factory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, that produced religious statuary from the early 1900s to the mid-1990s, when it folded. While visiting her friend Ellen Seeling in 1990, Goldstein first discovered the place, and she returned repeatedly to photograph it. Seeling died in 2003, and Goldstein has dedicated POLI VESTURE to her. The photos, done in carbon pigment prints by master printer Ron Landucci, are still-life scenes of statues, or pieces of statues, made by Poli Vesture. The found imagery of crucifixes, the Madonna, saints and their heads and hands, have a decidedly ethereal feel, especially since they've been so dramatically lit. Although the POLI VESTURE photos are clearly within Goldstein's well-established style, they're pretty different, too. Through April 18 at Edge Gallery, 3658 Navajo Street, 303-477-7173.
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.
True Grit and Louise Bourgeois. There are two significant shows at the Metro State Center for the Visual Arts, both of which explore the topic of women in the arts. The first is a traveling exhibit, True Grit: Seven Visionaries Before Feminism, which examines the work of a group of modernists who gained prominence in the 1950s and '60s. The seven artists, all of whom are world-famous, are Louise Nevelson, Jay DeFeo, Lee Bonticou, Nancy Grossman, Claire Falkenstein, Nancy Spero and Louise Bourgeois. Though all launched their careers before the rise of feminism, the movement has been very good for their ever-growing reputations; if their names are familiar today, it's because feminists in the art world have championed their work for decades. The second show is Louise Bourgeois: Selections From the Collection of Ginny Williams, a Bourgeois solo organized by CVA director Kathy Andrews. Denver collector Williams has one of the largest Bourgeois collections anywhere, and this is a rare opportunity to see some of it. Through April 24 at the Center for the Visual Arts, 1723 Wazee Street, 303-294-5207.