Common Ground. The Sandra Phillips Gallery specializes in abstraction, as is shown off in the current show, Common Ground, which combines neo-abstract-expressionist paintings by Jennifer Scott McLaughlin with neo-constructivist sculptures by William Mueller. Gallery owner and director Sandra Phillips discovered both artists at the Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art's biennial last spring. Though McLaughlin has written that blackboards were her inspiration, her paintings will remind many of the classic work of Cy Twombly. Several of her paintings are done on wood, and McLaughlin lets the grain show through as part of the compositions. Mueller's work is from his "wall series" in which large freestanding wood sculptures are bent at ninety-degree angles like walls meeting in a corner. Mueller has lived in Colorado for the last few years, and his powdery palette and the terra-cotta clay finish he uses are tangible responses to the sights of our region. The pairing of McLaughlin and Mueller works well, even if their work has nothing in common -- other than being abstract. Through August 31 at the Sandra Phillips Gallery, 744 Santa Fe Drive, 303-573-5969. Reviewed August 12.
Dots, Blobs and Angels. Denver's Museum of Contemporary Art is presenting an enormous solo that is dedicated to the late David Rigsby, an artist who played a big part in the local art scene in the '70s and '80s. The exhibit was organized by director Cydney Payton, who installed it more or less chronologically, allowing Rigsby's stylistic development to shine throughout. The oldest works in the show are two oils on book covers done when Rigsby was a little boy; the newest were done right before he died in a car accident in 1993 -- some of these were done on book covers, too. In between, Rigsby created scores of abstract and figural paintings, as well as a body of remarkable sculptures made of wood and recycled rubber. The outlandish title, Dots, Blobs and Angels, refers to some of the things Rigsby depicted -- though much of what he sculptured during his forty-year-plus career defies description. Clearly, it's one of the hottest shows of the summer. Through September 19 at the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver, 1275 19th Street, 303-298-7554. Reviewed July 8.
Federico Castellon. Hugo Anderson, director of the Emil Nelson Gallery, has put together a riveting solo show devoted to the work of a prominent twentieth-century artist. Castellon was one of the few Americans who embraced European surrealism and worked in the style from the early 1930s -- when it was cutting-edge -- until 1971, the year he died, when it was an all-but-forgotten historical style. Castellon was born in Spain, but he moved to New York as a child and spent the rest of his life there. Though Castellon had no direct personal connection to surrealist masters such as Picasso, Miró or Dalí, who, incidentally, were also born in Spain, his work was influenced by them. This noteworthy show came together when Anderson acquired a cache of Castellons purchased directly from the collection of the artist's estate. The crowded exhibit includes examples of Castellon's paintings, watercolors, drawings and printmaking -- his greatest claim to art-history fame. Through September 25 at the Emil Nelson Gallery, 1307 Bannock Street, 303-534-0996.
Howard Bond. Classic landscape images by an internationally known American photographer are the topic of a self-titled solo, Howard Bond: Portfolio Sampler, at Camera Obscura Gallery. Bond, who lives in Michigan, has been a serious photographer since the 1940s, and he's known both for the masterful quality of his printing and for his use of large-format cameras. Gallery director Hal Gould has called Bond "a modern-day Ansel Adams," and it's obvious why when viewing these magnificent compositions in meticulously done prints. The show features the entire "Portfolio XXI: Alps," which is made up of ten separate images depicting the dramatic scenery of Europe's famous mountain range. It's amazing that a man in his seventies, which Bond is, could lug that huge camera up the mountainsides -- but the photos prove he did. Not only that, but he dragged the contraption around the world: The exhibit also features individual photos from other Bond suites, including "Sandstone Country," "Ten Cathedrals" and "The Bristlecone Pine." Through September 12 at Camera Obscura Gallery, 1309 Bannock Street, 303-623-4059.
Open Press LTD. Nineteen eighty-nine was a bad year for the economy in Denver, but no one told the artists, so lots of things were happening in the art world. It was the year that one of the city's cultural treasures, Open Press, was founded. To celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the fine-print facility, which has specialized in working with local artists, the Gallery of Contemporary Art on the campus of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs is putting on Open Press LTD. A 15-Year Retrospective. GCA director Gerry Riggs selected the pieces, but he got considerable input from Mark Lunning, founder and master printer of Open Press. Riggs and Lunning included thirty artists; surprisingly, each is sampled in depth rather than having only a piece or two in the show. The roster reads like a who's who of Denver art of the recent past: Lynn Heitler, Doris Laughton, Homare Ikeda, Reed Weimer, Joe Higgins, Dave Yust, Joellyn Duesberry, Dale Chisman, Tony Ortega, Dismas Rotta and Viviane Le Courtois. It's an interesting and diverse lineup. Through October 1 at the Gallery of Contemporary Art, 1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway on the UCCS campus, Colorado Springs, 1-719-262-3567.
Poetry and Stone. Cab Childress, architect emeritus at the University of Denver, has been contributing to Colorado's and neighboring states' built environments for the past fifty years. Poetry and Stone: Cab Childress Architect at DU's Victoria H. Myhren Gallery surveys his impressive career with drawings, photos, models and other artifacts that illustrate his unique vision. In the late 1950s, when Childress was right out of architecture school, he was a modernist. Gradually, as early as the '70s, he came to embrace post-modernism. His best-known works are those on the DU campus, making it the perfect setting for this handsome retrospective. Childress designed many of the buildings constructed at the school during the last ten years or so, either alone or in concert with other firms. These include the controversial Daniel L. Ritchie Sports and Wellness Center, as well as Olin Hall, Daniels College of Business and the Newman Center for the Performing Arts. Together, they have completely remade the look of the campus. Through August 27 at the Victoria H. Myhren Gallery, Shwayder Art Building, 2121 East Asbury Avenue, 303-871-2846. Reviewed August 5.
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