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.
Embrace! Christoph Heinrich, the Denver Art Museum's director-in-waiting, has unveiled his over-the-top installation show, Embrace! The sprawling exhibit meanders through the four levels of the Frederic C. Hamilton Building, with the atrium becoming the central axis. The idea was to have artists create pieces in response to the outlandish spaces found throughout the unconventional building. Heinrich favored works that allow viewers to walk into them, and since he's partial to painting, that medium plays the starring role (rather than new media, as might be expected). Heinrich selected seventeen artists, and they make for an international cast, including Katharina Grosse from Germany, China's Zhong Biao and El Anatsui from Ghana. But there's also a trio of Denver artists — Rick Dula, John McEnroe and Timothy Weaver, working together with his students from the University of Denver — and bravo to Heinrich for that. Through April 4 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, www.denverartmuseum.org. Reviewed November 26.
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. These linear compositions purportedly record the hypothetical and seemingly random movements of an object as suggested by the acronym that stands for "Point Traveling Through Space at an Erratic Speed." 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. Reviewed December 3.
Barnaby Furnas: Floods
Spittin' Image. Singer Gallery director Simon Zalkind can always be relied on to put together good-looking and intelligent shows, and that's exactly what he's done with Spittin' Image: Ten Artists Consider Their Children. Noting that depictions of children date back to antiquity, Zalkind — himself the father of a young daughter — decided to explore the current expression of this tradition among a select group of contemporary artists active in our area. The show, which well expresses Zalkind's taste for conceptual realism, includes pieces by Bill Adams, John Bonath, Karen Bozik, Margaretta Gilboy, Carol Golemboski, Tsehai Johnson, Gabriel Liston, Wes Magyar, David Mesple and Julie Puma. Most depicted their children directly, either in paintings or in photographs and photo-based works. Johnson took a very different approach, however, reproducing her daughter's drawings in decals that were then applied to found ceramic plates. Each of the artists also authored a statement about their children's effect on their work, and these have been turned into text panels. Through January 17 at the Singer Gallery, Mizel Arts & Culture Center, 350 South Dahlia Street, 303-316-6360, www.maccjcc.org.
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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 — mostly chairs — 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 to the topic, 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. The show is striking, not only because of the pieces included, but also as a result of the installation that incorporates graphics based on portraits of the designers in the show. Through January 24 at the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, 1311 Pearl Street, 303-832-8576, www.kirklandmuseum.org. Reviewed November 12.