Balance. Rarely has Walker Fine Art come up with an exhibit as successful as Balance, which pairs recent abstract paintings by Denver artist Don Quade with abstract sculptures by Colorado Springs-based Bill Burgess. Quade was formerly at Fresh Art Gallery, but Walker picked him up when Fresh Art closed last year. His work in mixed media combines expressionism and geometric abstraction, contrasting approaches that make for pronounced juxtapositions of scribbles and hard-edged shapes. These recent paintings feature light-colored grounds with darker marks laid on top -- something of a change for Quade, who was previously known for his all-dark canvases. Burgess is among the deans of contemporary sculpture in the state, with more than forty years of making art under his belt. These most recent sculptures are based on simple, pre-historic shapes such as arcs, circles and spirals and are made of rusted or stainless steel, or both. A monumental version of one will be completed this spring in Confluence Park. Jointly designed by Burgess and architect David Barber, the sculpture will be a giant fifty-foot helix rising out of a pool. Through May 7 at Walker Fine Art, 300 West 11th Avenue, #A, 303-355-8955.
Contemporary Realism and Americana. It's amazing that in the current art world, where it seems like everyone is searching for the next outrageous irony, good old-fashioned representational painters are still going strong. Come to think of it, that's an irony in itself, though no surprise; this kind of thing is so very viewer-friendly. The exhibit, Contemporary Realism, installed on the William Havu Gallery's first floor, is a trio featuring new landscapes by Rick Dula, Aaron Brown and Jeff Aeling. Dula is interested in what he calls "de-industrial-ization," and he conjures up romantic views of closed and dilapidated factories. Brown creates enigmatic narrative paintings that may or may not be based on actual places. Aeling's paintings of clouds and fields, on the other hand, are clearly based on actual locales in the Great Plains. In addition to the main attraction, Havu is presenting a group show on the theme of the cultural landscape. The show on the mezzanine, aptly titled Americana, includes depictions of roadside attractions by artists from the gallery's stable. Through May 7 at the William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360.
Every Place and Bound. A group of distinctive-looking post-minimalist paintings make up + Gallery's Every Place, a solo dedicated to Houston artist McKay Otto. He is just the latest Texan to be recruited for a Denver show by gallery director Gilbert Barrera, himself a Houstonite. Otto, a friend of the late minimalist master Agnes Martin, creates simple compositions -- either spatters or stripes -- painted in pale colors that seem to float beneath the active surfaces of his light-colored grounds. He achieves this effect by laying mesh over his already painted surfaces and then putting more paint on top. In the darker back part of +, there's a hot-looking solo focusing on the recent work of Ethan Jantzer, a definite up-and-comer among local experimental photographers. The show has the provocative title Bound, which refers to the tangled twine depicted in Jantzer's enlarged Cibachrome prints, which are based on photograms. In each, the piece of twine -- which looks like a scribbled line -- is set against a brightly colored ground in one of several rich shades. The enlargements are behind Plexiglas sheets, the perfect finishing touch. Both through April 1 at + Gallery, 2350 Lawrence Street, 303-296-0927.
John Edward Thompson. In 1919, post-impressionist painter John Edward Thompson introduced Denver to modern art in a controversial solo that inspired some to label the show a "monstrosity." Thompson had moved to Denver only a few years before he set the town on its ear. How times have changed. Today, most would describe Thompson's creamy landscapes and portraits as being downright pretty, as is revealed by the exhibit John Edward Thompson: Colorado's First Modernist installed in the small Western History/Genealogy Gallery on the fifth floor of the Denver Public Library. The exhibit includes several paintings from the original 1919 show as well as many never-before-exhibited works by Thompson. The Thompsons have been supplemented with pieces by his contemporaries and students, such as Vance Kirkland, Jozef Bakos and Frank Vavra. The show was organized by guest curator Deborah Wadsworth, a longtime collector of Thompson's work and a member of the recently created Art Advisory Committee, which supports exhibitions on Colorado art history at the DPL. Through May 20 at the Denver Public Library, 10 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-1821.
microCOSMIC. The Spark Gallery is becoming a center for conceptual ceramics, a type of work that has been dominating the field, as functional ceramics is on the decline. The latest evidence of this is microCOSMIC, a handsome solo devoted to the work of Katie Martineau-Caron, featuring recent ceramic sculptures and related monotypes. Martineau-Caron, who moved to Colorado from Massachusetts a few years ago, is interested in nature-based abstractions. Seeds, pods, plants and even viruses are her obvious sources of inspiration, not only in the forms of her pieces, but in the elaborate and richly toned glazing she employs. Also referencing nature is the way Martineau-Caron weaves the forms into elaborate organic patterns. The sculptures include dialogues, as she emphatically separates the cracked exteriors from the smooth and sometimes hidden interiors. Martineau-Caron is definitely on the way up -- her work appeared in the January issue of Ceramics Monthly. On Saturday, April 16, from noon to 5 p.m., she will be on hand to talk and answer viewers' questions. Through April 16 at the Spark Gallery, 900 Santa Fe Drive, 720-889-2200.
Our Culture Is Our Resistance. The Colorado Photographic Arts Center only rarely presents single-artist exhibitions, as it's doing now with Our Culture Is Our Resistance: Repression, Refuge and Healing in Guatemala. The show focuses on the work of Denver photographer and CPAC member Jonathan Moller, who, between 1993 and 2003, took annual trips to Guatemala to capture village life in the war-torn country. The subjects of Moller's very ethnographic-style work are the indigenous Maya people who were terrorized and uprooted by the protracted civil war. At first glance, the photos seem to be slice-of-life shots, à la National Geographic, but it soon becomes apparent that they've been posed. The images are published in a book with the same epic title that includes poetry, essays and testimonials. It's available for purchase at CPAC, with sale proceeds going to the Association for Justice and Reconciliation in Guatemala. Note: This show will be the last CPAC offering until next fall, as the center's building will be extensively remodeled over the summer. Through April 23 at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center, 1513 Boulder Street, 303-455-8999.
Red, White and Black. The young artist with the epic name of Jared David Paul Anderson is a one-man art movement. Not only is he a serious painter, as he demonstrates in the Assembly gallery's Red, White and Black, but he's quite the organizer. In addition to running the Assembly, Anderson founded an artist collective whose members work in the studios above the gallery; he also manages the Annex, just around the corner, at Eighth Avenue and Santa Fe Drive, where those artists show their stuff. His most recent project has been cleaning up the alley behind the two galleries and installing a "Ghetto Garden." The garden area is walled off from the alley by a massive sculpture Anderson made of doors; the installation briefly became a zoning cause célèbre when city officials determined that it is illegal to build a fence out of doors and sought to have it removed. The piece is safe now, since it was officially declared a work of art. Anderson -- who is going by the name Jared David Paul for this show -- does neo-abstract expressionist paintings on paper and board using only red on red, white on white or black on black. He has written that these paintings grew out of his interest and study of aboriginal art from Australia and traditional Chinese art, but they look like they have a lot of New York School in them, too. Through April 30 at the Assembly, 766 Santa Fe Drive, 303-573-5501.
Siqueiros. The exhibition Siqueiros: Spirit of a Revolutionary at the Museo de las Américas is evidence that the beleaguered institution -- which all but collapsed last year -- is still alive and kicking. The gorgeous exhibit, put together by Alfonso Miranda Marquez of the Museo Soumaya in Mexico City, includes more than a score of works by one of the greatest Mexican artists of all time: David Alfaro Siqueiros. Using paintings, drawings and watercolors, Marquez economically surveys the artist's career from the 1910s to the 1970s. Siqueiros was one of "Los Tres Grandes" of the Mexican mural movement, and like the other two -- Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco -- he created work with one eye on vanguard styles developing in Europe, and the other on left-wing political action at home in Mexico. An interesting aspect of Siqueiros's style is that it had an influence on artists in the United States, and not just the social realists, but the abstract expressionists, as well. Through April 23 at the Museo de las Américas, 861 Santa Fe Drive, 303-571-4401. Reviewed March 10.
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