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.
Five Presses: Selected Works, et al. The enormous Lower Gallery at the Arvada Center has been given over to a massive print show, Five Presses. The title refers to the five presses from which curator Jerry Gilmore has selected the 75 prints he's included in this impressive exhibit. The presses are Anderson Ranch, Shark's Ink., Hand Graphics, Segura Publishing Company and White Wings Press. Among the artists who are represented are Terry Allen, Vernon Fisher, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Emilio Lobato, David Barbero, Robert Colescott, Emmi Whitehorse, Enrique Chagoya, James Turrell, Carrie Mae Weems and Betty Woodman. In the Upper Gallery is Donald Quade: Journal, a big solo filled with abstracts by this up-and-coming Denver painter. In the theater lobby is the more intimate Chuck McCoy: New Works on Paper, made up of abstracts on paper. An opening for all three is planned for Thursday, June 9, from 7 to 9 p.m.; on Monday, June 13, there's a talk with Gilmore, Quade and McCoy at 10 a.m. Donald Quade and Chuck McCoy through August 21 and Five Presses through August 28 at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Boulevard, Arvada, 720-898-7200.
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. Reviewed May 26.
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.
Udo Nger and Maggie Michael. Both exhibits in this pair of back-to-back solos at Rule Gallery are made up of sophisticated abstract paintings. In the front is Udo Nöger, Light as Material; in the back is Maggie Michael, (T)rain. The Nöger paintings are more modest examples of the kinds of things the artist has on view in WHITE OUT at Denver's Museum of Contemporary Art. For the mostly white paintings, Nöger used three translucent layers of canvas to increase the depth of the surfaces and to grab the optimum amount of ambient light. Beyond the Nögers, in two tiny spaces in the back, are some good-looking abstracts by Michael. These paintings, which are post-abstract expressionist, take on a retro palette suggestive of the 1970s. There are some '80s devices employed, too, such as the implied representational imagery around the edges. Michael's bag of artistic tricks runs the gamut of visual effects from delicate ink drawings to thick blobs of poured latex plastic. The paper pieces fall short, but the paintings more than make up for that. Through June 18 at Rule Gallery, 111 Broadway, 303-777-9473. Reviewed June 2.
WHITE OUT, et al. The main spring exhibition 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 inside feels 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 over-exposed 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. Reviewed June 2.
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