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.
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 it actually is. Through June 18 at the William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360. Reviewed June 9.
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.
Jenny Morgan, Peter Illig and John McEnroe. There's a duet on display in the front space of + Gallery: Jenny Morgan: First Person on two of the walls, and Peter Illig: Future Tense on the other two. Morgan is a twenty-something Denver painter who's forging her own distinctive path with enigmatic self-portraits in a contemporary representational style. Illig's small solo comprises only four pieces. Illig has been around a while, but this is his first outing at +. His style is neo-pop, and while there's definitely a relationship between his work and James Rosenquist's, there's a gritty, noir-ish quality, too. In the back space at + is the impressive John McEnroe: Upshot, a conceptual show of color-field paintings done in latex paint with no canvas or board behind them. Also included is a group of sculptures made of tools that were cast in plastic and then distorted through melting. In overall impact, the show recalls the elegance of classic modernism. Then again, conceptualism is modern. Through June 25 at + Gallery, 2350 Lawrence Street, 303-296-0927. Reviewed June 16.
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.
no boundaries: fiber + art. Most of the modern and contemporary pieces at the Denver Art Museum are in storage, awaiting their places in the new building. But there is a small exhibit, no boundaries: art + fiber, on view in the sixth-floor Neusteter Textile Gallery that's composed of material that's either modern or contemporary. The DAM's textile curator, Alice Zrebiec, conceived the exhibit, and she only had to go to the museum's permanent collection to find all of the great pieces. There are many striking things in no boundaries, but foremost among these is a French-tapestry version of a cubist painting by Albert Gleizes. Another piece with roots in modernist abstraction is a Navajo weaving by Sadie Curtis, based on a sketch by Kenneth Noland, which is also in the show. (The Noland is part of a larger group of DAM-owned weavings based on famous artists' work; Zrebiec would like to do a future show of those.) Okada Tadashi, Chuck Close, Lucas Samaras and Magdalena Abakanowicz are among the other artists represented. Through July 10 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000.
WHITE OUTet 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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