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.
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.
Jules Olitski: Half a Life's Work. The Singer Gallery at the Mizel Center for Arts and Culture is presenting an important show, Jules Olitski: Half a Life's Work: Selected Paintings 1972-2002. Guest-curator William Biety, director of the Sandy Carson Gallery, organized the exhibit and was able to get the paintings in it straight from the artist, as the two are longtime friends. Born in Russia in 1922, Olitski gained fame in the 1950s and '60s with ultra-hip color-field paintings created by staining and spraying the canvases. These paintings made him one of the key post-painterly artists of that time. But the Singer show picks up the story in the '70s (hence the reference to half a life's work in the title), when Olitski was moving away from stains and toward thick, heavy coats of paint mounded up in peaks of impasto. These paintings were often carried out in iridescent pigments developed especially for him. In the '90s, Olitski made the radical -- for a non-objective artist like him -- shift to landscape painting, but for the past couple of years, he has been returning to his roots with poured and stained paintings. Through June 2 at the Singer Gallery, 350 South Dahlia Street, 303-399-2660.
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North American Sculpture Exhibition. The selections for this year's version of the always-important though invariably quirky North American Sculpture Exhibition at Foothills Art Center in Golden were made by celebrity artist James Surls, who gained fame in Texas but now lives in Colorado. Surls put together an oddball display dominated by figural sculptures; some of them are pretty uninspired and doctrinaire examples of neo-traditionalism, but others are convincingly contemporary. However, it's undeniable that Surls was very conservative in his picks. Artists in the show hail from around the country, but, as in the past, the single biggest group is from Colorado -- though there are fewer locals than ever and even fewer who are well known. Among the area artists who got their work through the aesthetic obstacle course set up by Surls are Patricia Aaron, Alicia Bailey, Marie E.v.B. Gibbons, Bonnie Ferrill Roman, Maureen K. Scott, Jan Steinhauser and Sumi Von Dassow. Among the many artists from elsewhere are Tyler Meadows Davis from Utah, Lazar Christian Fonkin from British Columbia and Jonathan W. Hils from Oklahoma. Through June 6 at the Foothills Art Center, 809 15th Street, Golden, 303-279-3922.
Robert Rauschenberg. Rule Gallery is currently featuring Robert Rauschenberg: Selected Prints, 1990-2001, a compelling show that highlights prints by this pop-art pioneer. Master printers from New York's Universal Limited Art Editions pulled all the Rauschenbergs here, and the artist has a longtime relationship with them. Though the prints in this exhibit date back only a decade or so, Rauschenberg's been associated with prominent print atelier Universal Limited for nearly half a century; he first met the studio's founder, Tatyana Grosman, in the late 1950s. Rauschenberg is known for using expressively altered photographic images laid over one another to create abstract compositions -- and evidence of his influence on generations of artists is ubiquitous. The Rule show samples three series by Rauschenberg: "Soviet/American Array," assemblages of photos taken in Russia and the United States; "Ground Rules," done in the unusual and archaic photogravure technique; and "Ruminations," which explores imagery of his own past. On Saturday, April 24, at 5 p.m., Bill Goldston, director of ULAE, will give a talk at the gallery about his friendship with Rauschenberg. Through May 8 at Rule Gallery, 111 Broadway, 303-777-9473.
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.
Transmutations. The Colorado Photographic Arts Center is presenting a theme show with the scientific-sounding title of Transmutations, a word that means that something has been changed or altered into something else. The title reveals that the three artists, Marilyn Waligore, Lisa Folino and Marc Berghaus, are all using manipulated images in their photo-based work. But the three are also linked by their taste for goth-flavored imagery. The show begins with Waligore's silver gelatin prints taken from digitized negatives, which strike a dark note right off the bat. Especially creepy is her use of a photo of a human skull -- but she can even make ordinary household items look ominous. Up next are very similar photos by Folino in selenium- and gold-toned silver gelatin prints of still-life scenes in which Venetian-style Carnival masks take a central role. Berghaus, the last artist in Transmutations, is represented by sculptures that incorporate photos. The resulting contraptions are reminiscent of archaic scientific equipment. Through May 1 at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center, 1513 Boulder Street, Boulder, 303-455-8999. Reviewed April 22.