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.
Japanese Design Today 100. This exhibit, which features an examination of contemporary Japanese design, is likely to be the last of the big shows at Metro State's Center for Visual Art. That's because the budget's been drastically cut and director Kathy Andrews is leaving as a result. Poignantly, the show opened on Andrews's last day. She attended the opening reception, keeping a stiff upper lip while bidding a farewell to her supporters and the institution she ran for the last three years. Although Andrews installed the design exhibit, the Japan Foundation organized it with selections made by a panel of Japanese curators and designers. A lot of their choices are high-tech gadgets, including digital cameras, game stations and even a robotic dog, but there are also low-tech articles, such as vases and toys. One of the exhibit's most interesting features is the lack of a discernable Japanese aesthetic, which is so obvious in older material. Instead, almost everything seems as though it could just as easily have been made in the U.S. as in Japan. Through August 27 at the Center for Visual Art, 1734 Wazee Street, 303-294-5207.
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.
Maynard Tischler: A Year of Woodfired Ceramics.This solo is mostly made up of pieces completed in the past year, but there are also a half-dozen early pieces and a group of tapestries, of all things. Tischler, who has taught at the University of Denver for the past forty years, is surely one of the living cultural treasures of our region. He is best known for his pop-art-style ceramic sculptures -- such as a rigorously accurate depiction of a box of books, an unbelievable installation of realistic-looking garden tools and a pair of scale models of American World War II-era tanks -- which are on view in Maynard Tischler: A Year of Woodfired Ceramics. Tischler's pieces have been finished in a limited range of mostly browns and greens, conveying the look of wood, metal or camouflage. Tischler also excels in vessel making, both the traditional type and his own cubistic design for vases and matching stands. The tapestries are a couple of decades old and, like the sculptures, they're pop art. Through August 5 at the Victoria H. Myhren Gallery, 2121 East Asbury Avenue, 303-871-2846. Reviewed June 30.
Shooting Star. The handsome exhibit Shooting Star: The Artwork of Frank Mechau (1904-1946) is currently on view in the Vida Ellison Gallery on level seven of the Denver Central Library. Mechau grew up in Colorado, but in the 1920s he went in search of first-rate art training and spent time in Chicago and Paris. In Paris, he was exposed to modernism, which left a lasting impression on the style of his work. He returned to Colorado in the 1930s, where regionalist style of the Boardman Robinson type ruled. Mechau's signature is a combination of Parisian modernism and good old American regionalism -- an interesting combo, to say the least, that Mechau got a lot of mileage out of. His most famous subjects were horses, which strike a nice regionalist note, but his modernist versions of the animals are flattened and lack details. Mechau died at the age of 44, and though his career was cut short, he was one of the most significant Colorado artists working in the early twentieth century. That makes this show long overdue. Through August 30 at the Denver Central Library, 10 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-1814.
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