The Eternal Gift. The Taylor Museum in the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center is showing off some of its treasure in The Eternal Gift: Selections From the Fine Arts Center's Permanent Collection. The Taylor's inventory has many strengths, including modern art from the early to mid-twentieth century, which is what's on display in this show. Michael De Marshe, the center's president, made the choices; after sampling the Taylor's marvelous American scene paintings collection, he decided to include spectacular period pieces by Walt Kuhn, John Sloan and Isabel Bishop, along with that signature Georgia O'Keeffe flower painting. There's some early vanguard stuff -- notably, Arthur Dove's "Fog Horns" and Chagall's "Inspiration" -- as well as great things by Marsden Hartley, Milton Avery and John Marin. The next generation is also on hand, with the Taylor's famous Diebenkorn taking center stage; the Motherwells are pretty neat, too. Regular visitors will be familiar with many of these pieces from past shows at the center, but the thing about masterpieces is that they never get old. Through February at the Fine Arts Center, 30 West Dale Street, Colorado Springs, 1-719-634-5583.
Filters of the Twentieth Century. Over the last couple of decades, there's increasingly been a problem with making neat and tidy distinctions between photojournalism and fine-art photography. Art is exactly what's in store for viewers of Filters of the Twentieth Century: Margaret Bourke-White, Carl Mydans on display at Cherry Creek's Gallery M. True, Bourke-White and Mydans were photojournalists, but their works are examples of fine-art photography anyway. Bourke-White did Life magazine's first cover, "Fort Peck Dam," in 1936; an estate print of it is included at Gallery M. The exhibit also has photos Bourke-White took for Erskine Caldwell's 1939 book, You Have Seen Their Faces, which was her personal response to photos of the rural poor taken for the Farm Service Administration. Like Bourke-White, Mydans was one of the first generation of Life photographers, and before that he worked for the FSA. The show could be criticized for being way too crowded, but considering what it's crowded with -- stunning images by Bourke-White and Mydans -- who cares? Through January 31 at Gallery M, 2830 East Third Avenue, 303-331-8400. Reviewed October 14.
Graphics by 20th Century Masters. The Gallery of Contemporary Art at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs is hosting this impressive traveling show that includes a who's who of the world of modern art. Graphics by 20th Century Masters includes more than sixty prints in a wide range of techniques, all collected by Wes and Missy Cochran of Georgia. Wes began collecting pop art as a young man in the 1960s when he was working in the oil fields in the Middle East. Interestingly, the Cochrans are not wealthy -- Wes works as a stonemason and Missy as a public school teacher -- and that's surely why they choose to collect prints, which are more affordable than paintings or sculptures. As could be expected, there's depth in pop art, with examples by Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Indiana and Claes Oldenburg, but there are also major works from early in the century by the likes of Picasso, Chagall and Dali. There are so many different artists doing so many different things, it's tempting to call the show comprehensive, though, of course, it isn't. Through January 28 at the Gallery of Contemporary Art, 1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway, Colorado Springs, 1-719-262-3567.
Opened Windows. Boulder artist Virginia Maitland has been part of the local scene since the '70s, when she moved to Colorado from Philadelphia on a whim after graduation from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Since Opened Windows at Studio Aiello is her first show in Denver in a decade, however, many in the art crowd may never have heard of her, let alone have seen her pieces. Something of a retrospective -- though it's been installed backwards, with the newest works in the first bay and the oldest in the third -- the exhibit includes over three dozen paintings, some of them eight feet long. As befits such a massive endeavor, there's an accompanying catalogue. The show was organized by gallery co-directors Monica Petty Aiello and Tyler Aiello, with lots of input from Maitland. An abstractionist, her signature works are color fields à la Helen Frankenthaler, especially the ones done on unprimed canvas. It's this kind of work, created in the '70s and '80s, that made Maitland famous in the region; she also did other work, such as geometric abstractions and even some representational pieces with photo-transfers. Through January 21 at Studio Aiello, 3563 Walnut Street, 303-297-8166.
Pictures from Sonny's Place, et al. Nationally known Colorado painter John Hull has been described in the New Yorker as a combination of Corot and Quentin Tarantino. That tongue-in-check appraisal really hits the mark with Pictures from Sonny's Place, now at + Gallery. The paintings are set in a junkyard, the "Sonny's Place" of the title. Hull's established method is to create a series of related paintings based on sketches done in the field. Each paintings has a narrative component that connects it to the others. When all the paintings are taken together, the narratives build on one another creating a plot worthy of a novel. All Hull's favorite subjects are here, in particular young thugs and the cars -- in this case, wrecked ones -- that are at the center of their lives. Paired with Hull's solo is Selections from New American Paintings, Issue #54, which includes pieces by Waddy Armstrong, David Leonard, Kevin Lucero Less, Thuong Nguyen and Kate Petley. An artists' reception is scheduled for Thursday, January 20. from 6 to 9 p.m. Through February 19 at the + Gallery, 2350 Lawrence Street, 303-296-0927.
The Quest for Immortality. With the rise of archaeology in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, scientists began excavating Egyptian tombs and discovering a wide array of gorgeous artifacts. This tomb art is what makes the blockbuster currently on display at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science absolutely fabulous. A traveling exhibit about midway through its coast-to-coast tour, The Quest for Immortality was organized by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., in collaboration with Copenhagen's United Exhibits Group and Cairo's Supreme Council of Antiquities. An army of scientists, curators and scholars worked on it, headed up by Betsy M. Bryan, a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The heart of the exhibit includes objects found in the tomb of Thutmose III, as well as an astounding digital re-creation of the tomb itself. The show is jammed with visitors, but don't let all the people -- or the steep ticket prices -- dissuade you: This is one show that you've really got to see to believe. Through January 23 at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, 2001 Colorado Boulevard, 303-322-7009. Reviewed October 7.
TIWANAKU. In the Helen Bonfils Stanton Galleries on the first floor of the Denver Art Museum is the unusual show TIWANAKU: Ancestors of the Inca. Tiwanaku was a large city on the shores of Lake Titicaca, in the mountains of Bolivia, that existed from 200 to 1100 A.D. The people who lived there, also called Tiwanaku, were not really ethnically related to the Inca, though the Inca adopted them as their cultural forebears and believed they were gods. Margaret Young-Sánchez, the DAM's pre-Columbian curator, put together the show, which is groundbreaking as a scholarly endeavor. There are nearly a hundred objects, including ritual pieces, ceramics, gold jewelry, pottery and a selection of remarkable textiles. Interestingly, much of the material is not from Tiwanaku, coming instead from surrounding towns. After all, the Inca -- and then the Spanish -- had looted the place centuries earlier, so there's little left. Through January 23 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000. Reviewed November 25.
Upstarts and Matriarchs. Feminism transformed American society in the '70s, allowing female artists to turn the art world upside-down. Surveying this trend is the topic of Upstarts and Matriarchs: Jewish Women Artists and the Transformation of American Art: 1970-Now. The exhibit was curated by Simon Zalkind, the director of the Singer Gallery of the Mizel Center for Arts and Culture, who has presented a formidable roster of first-rate shows over the years. It's hard to say that he's out-done himself this time, but he has. The scholarly show is installed both in the main multi-part space and in the nearby atrium gallery. The extra room was needed because Zalkind has included pieces by more than a dozen artists, among them major historical figures such as Judy Chicago, Audrey Flack, Nancy Grossman, Joyce Kozloff, Martha Rosler, Miriam Shapiro, Joan Semmel, Nancy Spero, Joan Snyder and Mierle Laderman Ukeles. Through March 27 at the Mizel Center for Arts and Culture, 350 South Dahlia, 303-399-2660.
Western Land: Scapes. Despite the single-show title, this presentation is actually a group of shows that highlight new paintings based on Western views. In the main space is the major attraction: Jeremy Hillhouse's abstracts that are loosely based on landscapes. his exhibit-within-an-exhibit was put together by Denver Art Museum curator Dianne Vanderlip, who became friends with Hillhouse after working with him at the DAM for decades. Vanderlip selected specific works for specific spots in the gallery, even going so far as to draw a map. The paintings, some of them very large, contain geometric references to the land as it might appear if seen from above. Most have a light-colored ground set off by dark lines. The landscape sets up an arena for painting, scraping and repainting. In the back of the gallery are Nebraska artist Stephen Dinsmore's dreamy, expressionist landscapes of actual places out on the plains. Up on the mezzanine, small, hyper-realistic landscapes by Wyoming's Scott Greenig are paired with fairly traditional depictions of the mountains in a post-impressionist style by New Mexico painter Cheryl Derrick. Through January 21 at the William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360. Reviewed January 13.
James Westwater. The current solo in the main space at the Rule Gallery is James Westwater; 10 Years, Geometric Narcissism, 1995-2005. This is not the first time Westwater has had his work exhibited in Denver, but it is the first major offering. The Rule show is a brief survey of the conceptual artist's work done during the time he's lived in Santa Fe, where he moved in 1994. For Westwater, who exhibits his pieces nationally, "geometric narcissism" explains what he's doing -- specifically, using simple shapes, most often ovals, to mark the surface of his pieces, as if he were putting a personal stamp on them. In the late '90s, Westwater put the shapes within neo-minimalist formats -- and they look a lot like Ellsworth Kelly's compositions -- but in the later pieces, he puts the shapes on top of appropriated images and found objects, including a reproduction of a seascape, a sheet of faux bois laminate and a suitcase. The exhibit opens with a reception from 6 to 9 pm on Friday, January 21. Through March 5 at the Rule Gallery, 111 Broadway, 303-777-9473.
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