Ania Gola-Kumor and Andrew Speer. The tiny Sandra Phillips Gallery has shoehorned in two solos, both highlighting longtime Denver painters. The first is Abstraction 2010: Ania Gola-Kumor, featuring the recent work of a Polish-born artist who's been exhibiting in Denver for decades. The paintings here display her signature style, in which all-over abstractions are formed from clearly defined shapes that fill the picture plane to the edges, like the pieces of an enigmatic puzzle. Gola-Kumor's painterly technique is breathtaking, with lots of over-painting in broken passages across the picture emphasized by a sense for drawing. It's as though the artist had scribbled across the canvases and then carefully filled in the automatist forms that resulted with layer upon layer of pigment. The second solo is New Work: Andrew Speer. Speer, who's had a long art and teaching career in the area, is one of the state's most idiosyncratic painters, with an invariably experimental approach. These paintings are dominated by juxtapositions of forms and styles. Through December 11 at Sandra Phillips Gallery, 744 Santa Fe Drive, 303-573-5969, www.thesandraphillipsgallery.com. Reviewed November 18.
archiTECHtonica. This is one of several shows put together by CU Art Museum director and curator Lisa Tamiris Becker to herald the opening of the institution's new building. It's paired with a show made up of related objects from the permanent collection. Becker invited an international cast of artists who work — broadly speaking — in the nexus of art and architecture. One of the stars is Peter Wegner, who was invited to do an installation — one side of a skinned Winnebago hanging from the ceiling — and a site-specific painting based on a color chip from a paint company. But Wegner did much more, creating fifteen paintings throughout the building, thus setting up an ad hoc show-within-a-show, titled Wall-to-Wall-to-Wall. Daniel Rozin has created the exhibit's tour de force, a mechanized panel of rusted tiles that acts like a mirror when visitors get in front of it. Other inclusions are altered photos of North Korean buildings by Seung Woo Back; a miniature building by Mildred Howard; and Driss Ouadahi's paintings of high-rises in North Africa. Through December 18 at the CU Art Museum, 1085 18th Street, Boulder, 303-492-8300, cuartmuseum.colorado.edu. Reviewed October 7.
Diane Cionni and Holiday Group Show. In the main room at Space is the fascinating New Works by Diane Cionni, made up of paintings depicting blurry, abstracted views of plants. Cionni, who lives in Steamboat Springs, has been a practicing artist for thirty years, but this is a rare glimpse of her work in Denver. Cionni takes photos of her garden and alters them digitally. Then, using rice paper, inks and acrylic pigments, she alters them further, obscuring the details of the originals while enhancing their outlines. The finished products are clearly paintings as opposed to painted photographs, but you can still see their digital origins. In the large rear gallery is Holiday Group Show, highlighting Space's strength — contemporary abstraction — with amazing pieces by Scott Holdeman, Haze Diedrich, Michael McClung, Robin Ault and Tom Bosma, as well as some by Carlene Frances and Pat Orban, who run the Enso Gallery on the mezzanine. Last but hardly least is Lewis McInnis, who's represented by gouaches that are absolutely fabulous. Through December 18 at Space Gallery, 765 Santa Fe Drive, 720-904-1088, www.spacegallery.org. Reviewed November 18.
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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.
Over the River. For nearly twenty years, artist Christo and his late wife, Jeanne-Claude, planned the "Over the River" project, a series of sunshades that hopefully will be installed in a few years as a temporary work of art on intermittent stretches of the Arkansas River in southern Colorado. It's not clear yet whether or not it will happen, though it is clear that a campaign has been mounted against it. In Denver, we're lucky to be just a few hours' drive from the proposed setting — and also to have the opportunity to carefully examine the idea through Over the River, Project for the Arkansas River, State of Colorado, a Work in Progress, on display at MCA Denver. The exhibit originated with Christo himself, and it suits well the mandate of the museum to encourage dialogue in the visual arts. The show is beautiful and coolly elegant, its coolness having something to do with all the blue sky in the mixed-media works on view. That coolness is also the perfect analogy for "Over the River," since the water, and the sunscreens, would have a cooling effect on viewers — if it's ever built, that is. Through January 16 at MCA Denver, 1485 Delgany Street, 303-298-7554, www.mcadenver.org. Reviewed November 4.