2005 Biennial BLOW OUT. This is the third in a series of biennials presented at Denver's Museum of Contemporary Art. In the past, participation in these biennials was limited to artists from around here; for the 2005 version, it's been expanded to include artists working in most of the western states. Despite this, artists from Colorado still dominate the show: Six of the ten chosen by celebrity juror Kenny Schachter live in our state. These six, mostly from Denver, are Louisa Armbrust, who's exhibiting digital drawings; Patti Hallock, color photos; Susan Meyer, a wood-and-metal installation; Jason Patz, color digital inkjet prints; David Sharpe, pinhole photos; and Jeff Starr, painted ceramic sculptures. Sherlock Terry from New Mexico is showing lenticular photos. The other three, all from Arizona, are: Angela Ellsworth, embroidered paper napkins; Denis Gillingwater, installation with closed-circuit TV; and Jessica James Lansdon, a mixed-media installation in contact paper and yarn. Controversies aside, the show looks great. Through September 25 at the Museum of Contemporary Art. 1275 19th Street, 303-298-7554. Reviewed July 14.
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 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 in this impressive exhibit. The presses include two famous ones 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 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. Through August 27 at the Center for Visual Art, 1734 Wazee Street, 303-294-5207.
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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 was 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 photo-based pieces are by Randy Brown, who does painting and photography hybrids, and Jason Musgrave, who created an impressive large-scale installation made of various materials. Through September 1 at the Museum of Outdoor Arts, 1000 Englewood Parkway, 303-806-0440.
Maynard Tischler: A Year of Woodfired Ceramics. This solo is mostly made up of pieces from the last year, but there are also a half-dozen early works and a group of tapestries, of all things. Tischler, who has taught at the University of Denver for the last forty years, is 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 World War II-era tanks -- which are on view in Maynard Tischler: A Year of Woodfired Ceramics. The 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 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.
The Next Big Thing. A funky new art spot with the ridiculous name of Rhinoceropolis has only recently opened in the old Wheelbarrow space, a funky art spot with another ridiculous name that closed some time ago. Like its predecessor, Rhinoceropolis is held together with little more than spit and some string. But there's an interesting solo there called The Next Big Thing, dedicated to the work of emerging conceptual artist Justin Simoni. The show includes prints, documented performances and films all illuminating Simoni's exploration of fame, which he sees as illusionary because, like art, it exists only in the imaginations of observers. Simoni did a number of goofy things to flesh out his ideas, such as covering himself in a suit made from multi-colored posters of self-portraits and the motto "The Next Big Thing." In the same get-up, he carried a huge (great) painting of his from South Broadway to downtown. Another time, he hit the openings dressed as Andy Warhol. These stunts did not garner Simoni any fame, but he'll surely come up with something that will. Through July 31 at Rhinoceropolis, 3553 Brighton Boulevard, weekends only, no phone.