Colorado & the West. This is the tenth summer in a row that David Cook Fine Art, the state's premier purveyor of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century material, has presented a group show dedicated to historic Western art. This year's version is anchored by more than two dozen oil paintings and watercolors by Charles Partridge Adams. Active at the turn of the nineteenth century, Adams was the state's most important impressionist; his specialty was light-filled landscapes. The exhibit also includes a number of artists associated with the long-defunct Broadmoor Academy in Colorado Springs, such as Robert Reid, Charles Bunnell and Birger Sandzén. There is also a group of watercolors by Vance Kirkland, whose work is rarely offered for sale, and by Allen Tupper True, whose works are even rarer. These impressive Colorado selections have been supplemented by a nice array of New Mexico pieces by artists such as Howard Cook, Pansy Stockton and Doel Reed. Needless to say, the don't-miss show is a glorious salute to the region's rich artistic heritage. Through June 30 at David Cook Fine Art, 1637 Wazee Street, 303-623-8181, www.davidcookfineart.com.
Exposure. Eric Paddock is the Denver Art Museum's first full-fledged photo curator to head up his own new department. To unveil the permanent gallery for photography in the Ponti tower, he's put together Exposure: Photos From the Vault, highlighting a range of gems from the DAM's collection. Collected in fits and spurts, the museum's photo holdings are very uneven, but as Paddock proves with this show, there are a lot of masterworks in it anyway. As could be expected, considering the impressive Wolf Collection of early Western landscapes, there are quite a few pieces by the pioneers of that field, notably Carleton Watkins. And there are a number of well-known photos by famous modern photographers like Diane Arbus, Ansel Adams and Garry Winogrand. Another important feature of the exhibit is the inclusion of many Colorado photographers, including Kevin O'Connell and Wes Kennedy. This aspect is not unexpected coming from a curator who spent most of his career at the Colorado Historical Society. Through October 31, at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000. www.denverartmuseum.org. Reviewed May 20.
Herbert Bayer. There's no argument that Herbert Bayer, who lived in Aspen for decades, is the most important artist in Colorado history. He was internationally famous when he moved here, having been associated with the Bauhaus in Germany before World War II. And in line with the philosophy promoted by that utopian school, he embraced a wide range of artistic mediums, including graphic design, architecture, painting, printmaking and textiles; he also invented earth art. This exhibit includes paintings and works on paper, but it is Bayer's sensational tapestries that dominate the show because of their size, their graphic boldness and their strong colors. In truth, everything else recedes into the background in deference to them. The tapestries, done in the 1960s and '70s, reveal that Bayer wasn't just a master of the simple yet visually rich composition; he was also king of color. Through June 19 at Z Art Department, 1136 Speer Boulevard, 303-623-8432.
Linda Fleming and Katy Stone. The current pair of shows at Robischon delve into the field of conceptual abstraction with two artists who create three-dimensional objects, not all of which could be called sculptures. Up front is Linda Fleming: Lingering, made up of some recent works by this part-time Colorado artist. In the center spaces is Katy Stone: New Work, highlighting ephemeral pleasures from the noted Seattle artist. Fleming is part of the history of contemporary art, having built her studio in the Libre artist collective way back in 1968. The pieces in Lingering, though mostly made of steel, are almost insubstantial owing to all the piercing Fleming has done to the forms. These openings allow negative space to play as important a role as the positive space of the materials themselves. As unusual as the Flemings are, Robischon has found the perfect companion for them in Stone's conceptually related work. The artist is technically making sculptures, but she organizes the mass of material she uses — often clear plastic — in such a way that they look like paintings. Through June 19 at Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee Street, 303-298-7788, www.robischongallery.com. Reviewed June 3.
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 September 19 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-866-5000, www.denverartmuseum.org.
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