Barnaby Furnas: Floods. Furnas is a New York artist who's been exhibiting his work since 2000, and this exhibit, in the MCA's Large Works Gallery, is made up entirely of his large abstract paintings. A unique feature of Furnas's personal history is his early embrace of watercolors as his medium. The watercolor method has been out of fashion for fifty years or more and is almost exclusively used today by Sunday painters who typically depict fruit and flowers, so the artist's decision to take it up was a courageous one. The paintings at MCA are not watercolors, but Furnas points out that since they're acrylics, they're water-based and thus behave in some of the same ways. The "Flood" works are large — most notably, "The Whale," which is thirty feet long and was painted on site in the gallery with an audience, no less. Furnas became internationally known in the last few years with representational pieces, but everything at MCA is completely abstract, even if Furnas sees them as hypothetical landscapes. Through January 10 at MCA Denver, 1485 Delgany Street, 303-298-7554, www.mcadenver.org. Reviewed October 15.
Robert Mangold. The dean of Denver's modern sculptors is the subject of a solo for the first time in more than four years. Simply titled Robert Mangold, it is made up of fairly recent work and contains examples of many well-known series, including his famous "Anemotive Kinetics," which are wind-driven spheres made up of colorful metal scoops mounted on rods, and his "PTTSAAES," sculptures, which do not move but are meant to suggest movement. A special feature of this exhibit is the fact that it almost didn't happen, since the seventy-something Mangold had a brush with death last year and might not have been around to complete the pieces. It's an absolute must-see. Through December 25 at Artyard Contemporary Sculpture, 1251 South Pearl Street, 303-777-3219, www.artyardsculpture.com.
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.
Vinyl et al. Roland Bernier, the master of Denver conceptualism, is presenting Vinyl at Spark, the latest in a series of exhibits that pushes forward the artist's interest in using words as his subject matter. He has covered most of the walls in the east and west galleries with enormous letters, some of them spelling out the show's title, "vinyl," while others depict the word "cardboard." For each, Bernier uses the named material to make the words. Having done this kind of thing for years, Bernier has seemingly found an inexhaustible supply of inspiration in the dictionary. Interspersed with the Berniers is Patricia Aaron's solo, Viewpoints. In these works, Aaron has created lyrical abstracts purportedly based on her travels but containing no references to any particular places. Finishing off the attractions is Investigations in Philosophical Grammar, featuring beautifully crafted wall installations by John Alberty. There is a clear ideological connection between these Albertys and the Berniers, but aesthetically their work is as different as night and day. Through November 15 at Spark Gallery, 900 Santa Fe Drive, 720-889-2000, www.sparkgallery.com. Reviewed November 5.
You of All People! Here of All Places! A year ago, artist and benefactor Laura Merage tapped into the rich vein of local talent by opening RedLine, which combines studios and exhibition spaces. For its first anniversary, RedLine is presenting an exhibition highlighting the accomplishments of its associated artists. The curating and design of the show was a group effort, with member Jonathan Saiz taking the lead. One interesting feature of the membership is the many painters represented among them. The other predominating form is installation, with works by Viviane Le Courtois, founder Merage, Tom Guiton, Jeff Page, Alicia Ordal, Gretchen Marie Schaefer, Virginia Folkestad, Sterling Crispin and Linda Campbell. The odd artists out are Clemens Weiss, doing sculptures, and Jennifer Miller, showing photos. Through November 14 at RedLine, 2350 Arapahoe Street, 303-296-4448, www.redlineart.org. Reviewed October 29.
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