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. Reviewed June 9.
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.
Amy Metier. Amy Metier is one of the top abstract painters in Colorado, and has been for a long time. And as she has done periodically over the last several decades, she's once again gone to the studio and come back with evidence that -- in her hands, at least -- a little abstract expressionism can go a long way. This gorgeous show demonstrates its continuing appeal. Among Metier's many strengths is her spot-on sense of color: Each painting in her current show features a lyrically compatible palette -- usually in sunny tones of yellow, orange, blue and pink, but in a couple of instances dark, moody shades that are equally fine. All of the paintings here have the suggestion of a recognizable subject underneath the active surfaces -- a still life, a landscape, something -- yet it's impossible to make out what they actually are. Through June 18 at the William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360. Reviewed June 9.
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 have been given over to a massive print show, Five Presses. The show's 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 include two famous ones located right here in Colorado -- Anderson Ranch and Shark's INK -- as well as New Mexico's Hand Graphics, Segura Publishing Company from Arizona and White Wings Press of Illinois. 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. Donald Quade and Chuck McCoy run through August 21; Five Presses through August 28 at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Boulevard, Arvada, 720-898-7200.
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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.
Udo Nger and Maggie Michael. Both exhibits in this pair of back-to-back solos at the Rule Gallery are made up of sophisticated abstract paintings. In the front is Udo Nger, Light as Material; in the back is Maggie Michael, (T)rain. The Nger 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, Nger used three translucent layers of canvas to increase the depth of the surfaces and to grab the optimum amount of ambient light. Beyond the Ngers, 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 Œ80s devices employed, too, such as the implied representational imagery around the edges. Michael's bag of artistic tricks run 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 the 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.