Collective Nouns and E. C. Cunningham. Metropolitan State College has a special place in Denver's art world. Not only does it have the biggest set of visual-arts departments in the state, but it includes a mini-museum, the Center for Visual Art. These two factors only rarely come together, but they do in Collective Nouns, a group show featuring members of the art faculty from the college. Organized by center director Jennifer Garner and assistant director Cecily Cullen, the exhibit was self-curated with a request for submissions from artists who teach at Metro. As revealed by the show, conceptualism reigns at Metro, with installations, photos and paintings done in that style throughout. A bonus show-within-a-show, E. C. Cunningham: From Wichita to Nighthawk, highlights the career of this longtime printmaking professor, who died last year. Through February 19 at the Metro State Center for Visual Art, 969 Santa Fe Drive, 303-294-5207, www.metrostatecva.org. Reviewed January 27.
Joan Moment and Monroe Hodder. Though Joan Moment has spent the past four decades in California, she began her art career right here in Colorado in the late '60s when she was a graduate student at the University of Colorado in Boulder. That makes it easy to associate her work with that of George Woodman, a highly influential teacher at the time, and with Clark Richert, a fellow student then. Like them, Moment is interested in doing programmatic work that relates to patterning, meaning her work is abstract but also has conceptual content. Moment's solo has been paired with Monroe Hodder's, another neo-modernist, but where the former uses circles as her principal aesthetic device, the latter uses stripes. The two different bodies of work come together brilliantly. Hodder lives in Colorado, but she also has a studio in London. In addition to the Moment and Hodder shows, the gallery is presenting offerings by Carrie Lederer, a postmodern painter, and Jeff Aeling, a neo-traditionalist who lives in Missouri but paints Colorado's celebrity landscape. Through February 19 at William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360, www.williamhavugallery.com. Reviewed January 13.
Marc Brandenburg. The latest German artist to be introduced to local audiences by Denver Art Museum director Christoph Heinrich is Marc Brandenburg, a Berlin native. The artist is the subject of a handsome solo, Marc Brandenburg: Deutch-Amerikanishe Freundschaft,installed on level three of the Hamilton Building. Brandenburg came up with the German punk scene of the '80s, and the show's title, which means "German-American Friendship," is also the name of a rock band. His style is hyper-realist with a twist: Working in graphite on paper and using photos as studies, Brandenburg reverses the blacks and whites. Among the range of subjects are people out and about, on the streets or in parks. Technically, Brandenburg is as good as it gets; his drawings are breathtakingly precise. His punk heritage is hardly on view, but his continuing interest in being outrageous is well demonstrated by the floor drawing "Vomit," in which the artist has photographed vomit on the sidewalk and then done copies in graphite. Through February 20 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, www.denverartmuseum.org. Reviewed December 16.
Marc Willhite. Marc Willhite: Soft Descriptions is filled with installations, most of them text-based and including words. An emerging Denver artist, Willhite doesn't explicitly explain what he means when he uses specific words in specific pieces, but he does want the viewer to examine them and to visualize them. The exhibit's title thus becomes an explanation of sorts, with Willhite employing words with ambiguous or multiple meanings, or at least having enigmatic content. The image on the invitation is a photo of a rabbit with the sun shinning through its ears. This photo is not included in the exhibit, but an installation with thousands of clear plastic push pins spelling out the phrase "Sunlight Passing Through a Rabbit's Ear" is. Interestingly, the push pins catch the light in the same way the rabbit's ear does. The most unusual piece here is a portrait of Susan Sontag that was not made by Willhite but rather was commissioned by him. It was painted by Monique Crine and is based on a photo on the back cover of Sontag's Against Interpretation, the title of which resonates with the show. Through February 19 at Ironton Studios and Gallery, 3636 Chestnut Place, www.irontonstudios.com. Reviewed February 3.