Alden Mason, Kimberlee Sullivan, and Lorey Hobbs. The changing of the seasons from spring to summer is what inspired William Biety, director of the Sandy Carson Gallery, to put together three solos, each comprising nature-based abstractions. Alden Mason marks the debut of the Washington artist, who is represented in this show by neo-expressionist watercolors that are densely populated by cartoonish depictions of people, animals and plants. Mason, who is in his late eighties, is a well-known artist in the Northwest, where his work appears in the collections of many museums. Kimberlee Sullivan features paintings inspired by microscopic views of natural things. The Denver artist's small abstracts are painted mostly green, a detail that heightens the naturalistic reference. Finally, there is Lorey Hobbs, a show made up of this Denver artist's recent neo-abstract-expressionist canvases. It's hard to believe, looking at these boldly colored and powerfully painted works, that Hobbs actually begins with sketches of the countryside. Through July 6 at the Sandy Carson Gallery, 760 Santa Fe Drive, 303-573-8585.
Amish Quilts. In the beginning of the twentieth century, the women in Amish colonies in the East and Midwest produced quilts as utilitarian and ceremonial articles. They eschewed printed fabrics and used only solid-colored ones, especially in darker shades, to carry out their bold compositions made up of simple geometric forms. But despite their practical intentions, the Amish actually made minimalist works of art. In fact, the high-quality dressmaking wool and polished cottons make even familiar quilt patterns, such as the wedding ring, look new and strange. The striking appearance of the quilts is surely why the Denver Art Museum's textile curator, Alice Zrebiec, decided to present them as though they were abstract paintings. This association with abstraction is also why Faith and Stephen Brown, the collectors who own all but four of the quilts in this blockbuster, bought them in the first place. Through June 19 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000. Reviewed May 26.
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.
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.
Luminosity. The Museum of Outdoor Arts, ensconced in the newish Englewood CityCentre, is best known for the sculpture displays it has scattered around the metro area, including the main cache in front of Englewood's municipal building. But there's also an indoor space where MOA mounts art shows, which is currently outfitted with a multi-media show on the topic of "the quality of radiant light." Regionally famous artist Daniel Sprick is the only painter in the show, with everyone else doing photography or photo-based techniques. In the photography category are David Sharpe's shots of Robert Smithson's "Spiral Jetty," a pioneering earthworks piece that had been flooded by the Great Salt Lake but has recently reemerged as the water receded. Another photographer, Anne Arden McDonald, specializes in figure studies set in abandoned buildings. The two artists doing photo-based pieces are Randy Brown, who does hybrids of painting and photography, and Jason Musgrave, who created an impressive large-scale installation made of various materials, including glass, chrome and photography. Through September 1 at the Museum of Outdoor Arts, 1000 Englewood Parkway, #2-230, 303-806-0440.
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.
Stefan Kleinschuster and Ann Hamilton. Surely Stefan Kleinschuster is one of the most gifted young representational painters active in Colorado. Kleinschuster's style is fairly unique, being related to both abstract expressionism and its polar opposite, contemporary realism. As unlikely as the combination is, it's thoroughly successful. The blending of the approaches means that from a distance, there's a sense of photographic accuracy in Kleinschuster's depictions of figures, while up close they're extremely abstract, a riot of marks, smears and slashes. Robischon Gallery has paired a Kleinschuster solo with photos from internationally famous conceptual artist Ann Hamilton's "Face" series of portraits. For these photos, Hamilton used her own open mouth as an aperture for pinhole exposures -- no, really. That's pretty zany, but the pieces are even stranger, because Hamilton believes that the act of confronting her subjects with her mouth open is a significant aspect of this work. Through June 4 at Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee Street, 303-298-7799. Reviewed May 19.
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