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.
The Furniture of Eero Saarinen. One of the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art's specialties is decor. That focus is highlighted in The Furniture of Eero Saarinen: Designs for Everyday Living, a traveling exhibition dedicated to the work of the famous American architect. Though the show was put together by the Knoll Museum, Kirkland director Hugh Grant has supplemented it with pieces from his collection and from the architect's daughter, Susan Saarinen, a landscape designer who lives in our area. The elder Saarinen is best known for his Gateway Arch in St. Louis, but he also designed chairs and tables that have become classics of American furniture. His most radical concept is illustrated in the "Tulip" furniture that counteracted "the slum of legs" that he believed plagued the typical interior. In these works, tables and chairs, are on singular bases that resemble wine glass stems writ large. In addition to Saarinen's own designs, Grant has added works by others from the same era. Through November 28 at the Kirkland Museum, 1311 Pearl Street, 303-832-8576, www.kirklandmuseum.org.
Maria Cristina Carlini. This is an outdoor sculpture show dedicated to a contemporary Italian artist. On display at both the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design campus and the Auraria Campus, it represents an unprecedented act of cooperation between the two institutions and was curated by Cortney Stell, director of RMCAD's Philip J. Steele Gallery. The four large Carlinis are scattered around the beautiful RMCAD campus, which has a series of small historic buildings and lovely historic flower beds. One of them, "Out and Inside," has been given to the campus and will remain there after the show comes down. The work is like a pair of three-dimensional puzzle pieces set on end. The Auraria portion of the show includes three more monumental Carlinis, all sited near the Emmanuel Gallery. Among these is "Madre," which has been given to Auraria and is now part of its permanent collection. Through October 1 at RMCAD, 1600 Pierce Street, Lakewood, 303-753-6046, www.rmcad.edu, and the Auraria campus, Colfax Avenue and Speer Boulevard. Reviewed August 12.
Michael Brohman. The work of Denver sculptor Michael Brohman is as reliably interesting as it is reliably disturbing, and his new show at Pirate, Michael Brohman: Labor Intensive, is the latest proof. Brohman's iconography is crammed with different elements, including his very gross hybrids of babies and chickens, busts of men, animal horns and stiffened jockstraps. These odd and provocative subjects, often cast in metal, are used in sculptures or installations. And here's something strange: Brohman assembles these diverse forms in such a way that they have an Old West quality. This is unexpected, since his work is conceptual rather than representational. One of the most successful pieces is "Untitled Whisper." For this multi-part installation, Brohman has mounted a pair of bronze casts of men's busts on top of a pair of vertically set steel beams, with the whole thing placed on top of a preserved animal hide complete with brown fur. It's a real standout. Through September 26 at Pirate Contemporary Art, 3655 Navajo Street, 303-458-6058, www.pirateartonline.org.
Memory Trips. This strong solo is dedicated to recent work by Dan Ellier Chapman, a contemporary realist who is currently finishing his art degree at the University of Colorado Denver. Chapman's style definitely reveals the influence of his mentor, John Hull, who used to teach at UCD. This is especially true regarding Chapman's choice of subjects: real-life people seen on the streets of Denver. Professors Mary Connelly and Vivian George have also profoundly impacted his work, he says, though their influence is more subtle. Chapman has a number of strengths. He expertly applies the pigments in thin even layers, and he has a photographer's eye for details, with his pieces being fanatically accurate depictions of people in the urban environment. Finally, there's his imaginative sense for composition, as in "Jake, East Colfax," where the figure is centered in the right half of the horizontal picture, with the street scene receding behind on the left. If this show is any indication, Chapman's headed for the top of the heap around here. Through September 11 at Dark Energy Art Space, 860 West Eighth Avenue, 303-719-0021, www.darkenergyartspace.com. Reviewed September 16.
Moore in the Gardens. Henry Moore, who died in 1986, was Great Britain's most important modern sculptor. Born in 1898, he began to create artwork shortly after World War I, becoming internationally famous by the 1930s. Moore was one of a legion of important artists who responded to Picasso's surrealism, but he made the style his own. This traveling exhibit, sponsored by the Henry Moore Foundation, has been installed on the grounds of the Denver Botanic Gardens, with two pieces at the DBG annex at Chatfield (8500 Deer Creek Canyon Road, Littleton). The main part of the exhibit begins in the Boettcher Memorial Center, where a collection of the artist's tools and maquettes are crowded into showcases, and where a single work has been installed in a fountain. Most of the other pieces have been displayed around the gardens. The monumental works, typically in bronze, look absolutely perfect in the landscaped settings. Through January 31 at the Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York Street, 720-865-3500, www.botanicgardens.org. Reviewed June 17.
— Michael Paglia
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