Al Wynne. Al Wynne is one of the greatest artists to have ever worked in Colorado, and his accomplishments rank right up there with those of acknowledged masters such as Vance Kirkland and Herbert Bayer. And Black Forest Magic: Paintings & Sculpture by Al Wynne proves it. The Colorado native's career stretches back sixty years. For most of that time, he's lived and worked in the Black Forest north of Colorado Springs, where he and his wife, Lou, a ceramicist, operated an art school for many years. This exhibit reveals Wynne's signature abstract-expressionist style; he uses an automatist approach, in which lyrical forms, the result of unconscious painterly gestures, dance across the surface. In addition, there's a smaller group that features hard-edged shapes laid on flat grounds, resulting in paintings that are connected to the color-field movement, itself an outgrowth of abstract expressionism. Despite this stylistic bifurcation, Wynne is a tremendously consistent artist with a high standard of work. Through October 10 at Z Art Department, 1136 Speer Boulevard, 303-298-8432, email@example.com. Reviewed September 17.
Anna Kaye. The conceptual framework that underlies the drawings and watercolors that make up the handsome if small Apparition: works on paper by Anna Kaye is the effect of forest fires. Toward that end, Kaye captures the forest by employing a high level of drafting that make her drawings seem like photos. "Apparition," the title piece, in graphite and charcoal, shows a scorched bare tree in the foreground with another larger scorched tree appearing like a ghost (or apparition) in the background. It is stunning in terms of its perfectly balanced composition and its flawless execution. These same attributes can be ascribed to the other drawings included. The watercolors are equally striking and are also done with an astounding level of technical prowess. These watercolors, even more than the drawings, look like traditional pictures. And Kaye puts her money where her aesthetic is, since she's pledged 10 percent of her sales revenue to the Colorado State Forest Service. Through October 17 at Sandra Phillips Gallery, 744 Santa Fe Drive, 303-573-5969, www.thesandraphillipsgallery.com. Reviewed September 24.
Monroe Hodder and Michael Clapper. The main space at Havu is hosting two solos installed together as a stunning duet. Monroe Hodder: Painting Metabolism! Is made up of recent paintings by this great abstractionist, who spends time in both London and Steamboat Springs. Her gorgeous post-minimal paintings of stripes are extremely simple formally and yet very complex in their painterly qualities. The Hodder abstracts provide the perfect backdrop for Michael Clapper: Recent Sculptures, which includes pieces on the floor and on stands; there's even one outside the front door. These sculptures reveal the artist's taste for juxtaposing materials like buff marble and patinated steel, as in the magnificent "Silencio," the show's tour de force. In addition, representational paintings by Armin Mühsam and Debra Salopek are in the Salon, with photos by Fred Hodder on the mezzanine. Through October 31 at William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360, www.williamhavugallery.com.
Rex Ray. The Promenade Space on the second floor of MCA Denver is both a passageway and an exhibition hall. Given its limited size and unconventional plan — the main wall runs diagonally to the windows opposite it — the Promenade has been used exclusively for single installations. The latest example is an untitled mural by San Francisco artist Rex Ray, who used to live in Colorado. Ray has a national reputation based not just on his fine art, but as a designer of everything from books to coffee mugs. Ray created the mural specifically for this show and specially designed the fabulous wallpaper that surrounds it. The mural is signature Ray, with shapes that rise from the base in the manner of a still-life or landscape. The shapes have been made from cut-outs of painted papers that have been laid against a stunning blue ground, and were inspired by organic forms, or at least abstractions of them, as seen in mid-century modern design. The wallpaper has a spare, all-over pattern on a white ground, complementing the mural without competing with it. Through January 31 at MCA Denver, 1485 Delgany Street, 303-298-7554, www.mcadenver.org.
Shape & Spirit. This wonderful selection of antique bamboo articles is the first show in the newly unveiled Walter and Mona Lutz Gallery on the fifth floor of the Denver Art Museum's Ponti building. Walter and Mona Lutz, for whom the gallery is named, began collecting bamboo from throughout Japan, where they lived; in the 1960s, they expanded their collecting to include bamboo pieces from the rest of Asia. The couple collected ahead of the curve, allowing them to find exquisite things in a wide range of categories. There are baskets, of course, which is what most people might think of when the idea of objects made of bamboo comes up, but there are also sculptures and lanterns, fans and brush-pots, trays and tea-ceremony utensils, among a wide range of both decorative and utilitarian objects. For Shape & Spirit, curator Ron Otsuka selected 200 items from the Lutz collection, which have been given to the DAM. And he has intelligently and beautifully installed them in minimalist-designed showcases made especially for the new gallery. Through March 31 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-866-5000, www.denverartmuseum.org.
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