Currents. Traditional American Indian art is a well-established genre, and many Native artists still practice the old forms of weaving, pottery-making, metalwork and basket-making. But there are also contemporary artists among the tribes, and this group is the focus of Currents: Native American Forces in Contemporary Art. The exhibit was organized by Cecily Cullen, the Center for Visual Art's assistant director, who chose seven artists – Norman Akers, Nicholas Galanin, Jeffrey Gibson, Jaune Quick-To-See Smith, Marie Watt, Will Wilson and Melanie Yazzie — working in a range of mediums and styles. Some, such as Watt, comment on traditional Indian art, while others, notably Wilson, are more clearly socio-political in their aesthetic aims. Most, though, only vaguely and subtly reference their ethnic heritage. This exhibit defies stereotypes and at the same time reinforces the idea that it's possible to have both a Native American identity and be part of the international context of contemporary art. Through November 7 at the Metro State Center for Visual Art, 1734 Wazee Street, 303-294-5207, www.metrostatecva.org. Reviewed October 1.
Monroe Hodder and Michael Clapper. The main space at Havu is hosting two solos installed 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. They 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 Clapper's taste for juxtaposing materials like buff marble and patinated steel, as in the magnificent "Silencio.' 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. Reviewed October 22.
The Power of Then. Curated by Patty Ortiz, the former director of the Museo de las Américas who now runs the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio, this uneven show explores the shared Latino experience, as in old-fashioned Chicano art — hence the reference to 'then' in the title. But Ortiz adds a wrinkle by zeroing in on post-Chicano works. She chose several Western artists, including two from Colorado: Francisco Zamora and Alex Hernandez. One of the others, Roland Briseño, is essentially given a show within the show, being represented by many more pieces; unfortunately, as a result, the balance of the exhibit ia thrown off. On the opposite pole is Franco Mondini-Ruiz, represented by a handful of tiny sculptures made of found materials. Among the standouts are David Almaguer, who does neo-pop art using stencils, and Linda Arreola, a conceptualist with a taste for installation. Through January 11 at the Museo de las Américas, 861 Santa Fe Drive, 303-571-4401, www.museo.org. Reviewed October 1.
Stephen Batura. For the past eight years, Denver artist Stephen Batura has been doing works of art based on an archive of historic photos by Charles Lillybridge that are in the collection of what used to be called the Colorado Historical Society and is now known as History Colorado. Batura, who once worked at the Denver Public Library, came upon the photos through the digital files of the DPL's Western History Library. Lillybridge, who died in the 1930s, captured life in Denver a century ago with some 1,300 photos. Despite this great volume of visual material, little if anything is known about Lillybridge's life or career. Batura doesn't see Lillybridge as being particularly accomplished in his craft — which is odd, since he's been obsessed with the photographer's images for so long. Instead, Batura is interested in using Lillybridge's originals as ad hoc studies for his own paintings, watercolors and drawings; more than fifty of these make up this spectacular exhibit, cleverly subtitled Borrowing Time. Through October 31 at Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee Street, 303-298-7788, www.robischongallery.com. Reviewed October 22.
Streams of Modernism. A smart-looking survey of modern design put together by guest curators Katherine and Michael McCoy, this show features some of the many important pieces of furniture that are part of the Kirkland's impressive permanent collection. The McCoys' narrative is that designers influence one another, and they've taken a doctrinaire approach, creating a direct line that connects early-twentieth-century vanguard works to pieces done in the late twentieth century. The survey begins with works by the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright and Charles Rennie Mackintosh before moving on to Bauhaus masters like Mies van der Rohe and Marcel Breuer; it continues with objects by the Cranbrook fellows, such as Charles Eames and Harry Bertoia, and concludes with objects by Italian designers of the '50s through the '70s, notably Gio Ponti and Ettore Sottsass. An installation that incorporates graphics based on portraits of the designers in the show is striking. Through January 3 at the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, 1311 Pearl Street, 303-832-8576, www.kirklandmuseum.org.
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