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, most 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 lightjet 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.
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.
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, and it's currently outfitted with a multimedia 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 has 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.
Maynard Tischler: A Year of Woodfired Ceramics. This solo is mostly made up of pieces done during the last 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 last 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, and one that Mechau got a lot of mileage from. 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. Reviewed July 21.
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Treasure Island. Bethany Kriegsman just might be the most overlooked first-rate artist in the region. Surely her low profile is the reason too few have checked out her solo, the aptly named Treasure Island, at the William Havu Gallery. Kriegsman has been exhibiting her work around town ever since she moved to the area twenty years ago to teach at the University of Denver. The Golden-based artist is best known for printmaking, but this show is mostly filled with drawings and paintings. There are a few prints included, in particular a group of six collographs that are spectacular. Stylistically, her work refers to classic mid-twentieth-century modernism, and Kriegsman cites the influences of Joan Miró, Paul Klee and Jean Dubuffet. Add Constantin Brancusi to the list -- at least regarding the minimalist sculptures at Havu. Those are a real revelation coming from Kriegsman, since she isn't known to work in the medium. These finely finished bronzes are in the evocative form of attenuated finials and are taken from shapes found in her two-dimensional pieces. Through July 30 at the William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360. Reviewed July 21.