Chihuly. Michael De Marsche, president of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, has orchestrated the extravaganza Chihuly, a sprawling survey of the career of glass master Dale Chihuly. Working near Seattle, Chihuly is among the best-known glass artists of all time, right up there with Louis Comfort Tiffany and Paolo Venini. De Marsche, following the formula he has established in other exhibits over the past couple of years, set Chihuly within the context of the CSFAC's spectacular Southwestern and American Indian collections. And then there's the incomparable setting of the iconic John Gaw Meem-designed building itself. Chihuly's illustrious career is surveyed beginning with the oldest pieces, from his very first generation of vases done in the 1970s to some brand-new, hot-from-the-furnaces chandeliers and towers. During those thirty years, his work became increasingly expressionistic, a product of his awareness of the Venetian aesthetic. The show is installed throughout the center, and there are even examples displayed outdoors in the courtyard. Through August 14 at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 30 West Dale Street, Colorado Springs, 1-719-634-5581.
Colorado and the West. This year, as always, LoDo's David Cook Fine Art is presenting a group show filled with museum-quality pieces by a who's who of Western artists from the last part of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth. There's one difference this time, however: Previously, the show ran all summer, but this year there's a sooner-than-usual closing date, because the gallery plans to temporarily shut down for renovations in July. The exhibit includes more than 100 vintage prints, watercolors and paintings by a number of the region's best-remembered artists, many of whom were associated with Denver's Chappell House and the Broadmoor Academy in Colorado Springs. There are impressionist and expressionist pieces from the early 1900s, as well as realist and modernist pieces from the '30s and '40s. Artists include Birger Sandzén, Charles Partridge Adams, Vance Kirkland, Ethel Magafan, Peppino Mangravite, Howard Schleeter and Boardman Robinson. Through June 4 at David Cook Fine Art, 1637 Wazee Street, 303-623-8181.
Dialog. Studio Aiello co-directors Tyler and Monica Aiello have assembled a group show on the theme of contemporary abstraction -- or, as they call it, "non-representational." The exhibit includes the work of emerging sculptor Morgan Barnes and four Colorado painters: Mark Brasuell, Craig Marshall Smith, Haze Diedrich and Kimberly MacArthur Graham. Each of the painters takes a different page from the book of classic abstract expressionism, causing their styles to be interrelated but distinct. Abstract expressionism is particularly important to Brasuell and Smith, whose large compositions are downright retro, but it's also there in the paintings by Diedrich and Graham, where it's a lot subtler. The Barnes sculptures are something else. The artist uses simple forms such as spikes and planks and incorporates kinetic features that activate sound elements. The kinetics and the sound are low-tech and only work when a viewer pushes against the moveable part of a piece. Also interesting is the array of decorative finishes Barnes produces using only rust and grinders. Through May 27 at Studio Aiello, 3563 Walnut Street, 303-297-8166. Reviewed May 12.
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 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. Reviewed April 14.
The Last Picture Show. Show titles often have a poetic quality and are meant to be metaphorical, but not in the case of The Last Picture Show. This is the last show the Emil Nelson Gallery will present in its current location. Emil Nelson is a cozy little old-fashioned place in a Victorian townhouse just west of the Denver Art Museum. Surprisingly, the tiny gallery has actually done some big-time shows over the past couple of years. Owner Hugo Anderson is relocating the business to a studio space at 1280 Sherman Street that will be open only on First Fridays and by appointment. For the finale at the Bannock Street location, Anderson is featuring a group show that includes his own work as well as that of his friends Teresa Haberkorn, Katherine Hopkins, Julie Keith, Beatrice Pestana, Geoff Ridge, Steven Simon, Morgan Smith, Sarah Vaeth and Babara Wade. In addition, there are a number of historic pieces by Herbert Bayer, Federico Castellon and Werner Drewes, from their respective estates. Through May 31 at Emil Nelson Gallery, 1307 Bannock Street, 303-534-0996.
Lewis and Clark. There's quite a bit of art in it, but Lewis and Clark: The National Bicentennial Exhibition, at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, is not an art show. In addition to the sculptures, paintings and decorative items, there are documents, weapons, maps, notebooks, clothing, medical paraphernalia and scientific equipment. All of it is interesting, some of it even beautiful. The Missouri Historical Society's Carolyn Gilman expertly curated the show, gathering up the 400-plus artifacts in it, more than a quarter of which may be directly traceable to the expedition itself. In her selections, Gilman attempted to include the perspective of both the Euro-Americans and the American Indians. The exhibit has basically been arranged in chronological order, following Lewis and Clark and their Shoshone guide, Sacagawea, along their route from the Midwest to the Pacific. They were looking for a river passage to the Northwest coast, but it wasn't there. The show's only flaw is the theatrical exhibition design, which is often distracting. Through August 21 at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, 2001 Colorado Boulevard, 303-322-7009.
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. Extended through May 28 at the Museo de las Américas, 861 Santa Fe Drive, 303-571-4401. Reviewed March 10.
Spring Exhibition Cycle 2005. Let it never be said that the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art has gotten carried away with exhibition titles. Take, for example, the quartet of shows there now, which make up what is spartanly called Spring Exhibition Cycle 2005. The large West Gallery is split between installation artist Kim Turos and digital sculptor Jen Lewin. Turos uses found debris, such as chunks of paving, along with sculpted objects to express a dialogue between nature and urbanization. Lewin, using computers and LEDs, creates pieces activated by the viewers' movement through the gallery. In the more intimate East Gallery, well-known artist John Buck is the subject of a show that combines his abstract sculptures based on human torsos with related prints that were pulled from Shark's Inc. in Lyons. Finally, upstairs in the Union Works Gallery are Kristin Imig's candid street photographs, which were taken in various spots around the world and combine portraiture with documentation. Through June 11 at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, 1750 13th Street, Boulder, 303-443-2122.
WHITE OUT, et al. The main spring exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver has a strange, downright unseasonable mood. Oh, sure, it may be spring outside, but WHITE OUT: Lighting Into Beauty makes the museum's interior feel like winter. The exhibit, curated by museum director Cydney Payton, includes very white color-field abstract paintings by Udo Noger; a white installation evocative of a snowflake by Jaeha Yoo; and some overexposed color photos by the New York photo girl du jour, Tanyth Berkeley. Speaking of photos, WORKS FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE HANK CATO ESTATE, a small exhibit shoehorned into a niche on the first floor, has a handful of important ones, including examples by superstars Diane Arbus, Lisette Model and Ansel Adams. It's an eclectic assortment, which perfectly reflects the late Cato's personality. The Mirror of Reason, by emerging artist Paola Ochoa, is an installation inspired by an iceberg with a cheesy video as the centerpiece. Ochoa's installation is part of the museum's "NEW PIC" series that focuses on young artists. Through June 26 at the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver, 1275 19th Street, 303-298-7554.
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