Emilio Lobato and Sangeeta Reddy. Mixed-media artist and painter Emilio Lobato is surely near the top of anyone's list of abstract artists in the region. His work relates well to that of the late Dale Chisman, as both artists studied with Mary Chenoweth at Colorado College. His latest creations, many of which are three-dimensional, are featured in Casi Casi (Bit by Bit); in them, Lobato has reinterpreted his own early work. This move was almost inevitable after he prepared for his lifetime retrospective at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (see www.csfineartscenter.org), which caused him to re-look at many of the pieces he'd done over the last few decades. In truth, though, many seem to be unprecedented in his oeuvre. Lobato's always been good, but these latest works might be his best ever. On the mezzanine is a self-titled solo called Sangeeta Reddy. India native and Denver artist Reddy creates lyrical — and colorful — abstract compositions on paper. The Reddy show is the perfect companion exhibit to the Lobato outing. Through April 9 at the William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360, www.williamhavugallery.com.
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Halim Alkarim, Bill Armstrong and Eric Schwartz. Denver artist Halim Alkarim, who was born in Iraq, has created a new body of photo-based lambda prints, Hidden Love, that continues his sophisticated meditation on veiled women from his native culture. The monumental portraits — which are stunning — are handsomely installed in the main front spaces at Robischon Gallery. Each pairs gray shades with bright ones. These colors are used to obscure the faces in the portraits except for their eyes, which are sharply detailed. The portraits are ultra-aloof in a decidedly neo-Warholian way, a sensibility that's in the air right now. This is proved in spades by the adjoining solo, Bill Armstrong: Renaissance, in which the New York artist takes photos of Old Master paintings using the "infinity" setting and throwing them out of focus. Some have limited palettes with toned-up shades, while others are done in full color. Beyond is the third solo on view, from Eric Schwartz, who lives in Colorado and California. Titled L. A. in Black and Gray, the show features portraits of heavily tattooed Latino gangsters. Through March 26 at Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee Street, 303-298-7788, www.robischongallery.com.
Triggered Momentum. Ostensibly a group show, Triggered Momentum, Walker's entry into the Month of Photography celebration, is actually a pair of solos. Neither of the artists — Sabin Aell and Sterling Crispin — are doing photographs, strictly speaking, but each employs photo-related techniques to create their respective works. For Aell, these pieces began with a little serendipity when she came across a frozen towel outside her studio. She was struck by its beauty and began to take towels, wet them, arrange them and allow them to freeze. She photographed the frozen towels, then digitally printed them on transparent sheets. The sheets were then affixed to paintings covered with simple shapes. Aell painted the walls of the gallery with blown-up versions of the shapes, hanging the hybrid photo-paintings over them. The Aell pieces surround the one work by Crispin. Opposite the front door, and facing it, Crispin has created a screen with an interactive video component. As viewers approach the screen, a faint outline of their form is translated onto its surface. Through March 19 at Walker Fine Art, 300 West 11th Avenue, #A, 303-355-8955, www.walkerfineart.com.
Roland Bernier and Kellie Cannon. In the east gallery at Spark is Roland Bernier: Words — Themselves, an unusual show featuring mixed-media wall sculptures made of recycled cans. Bernier is well known for using words as his principal subjects, and for this show, he not only spells out the words, but employs the object of those words to further convey his concepts. For "Beer Cans," the words "beer" and "cans" have been spelled out with — you guessed it — beer cans. Others include "Juiced" made of juice cans, and "Tin Cans" made of tin cans. This is the last Bernier show at Spark, as he's resigned his membership in the co-op, but he will continue to show at Walker Fine Art. In Spark's west gallery is Kellie Cannon: Pattern Recognition, made up of a series of large-ish abstract paintings. These works have a layered feeling to them, with neutral grounds and collage elements included in some. All have earthy palettes and work well together as a suite. Cannon was a student of fellow Sparkster Pat Aaron at the Art Students League; Pattern Recognition is her debut. Through March 27 at Spark Gallery, 900 Santa Fe Drive, 720-889-2200, http://sparkgallery.com.
What Is Modern? Department of Architecture, Design and Graphics curator Darrin Alfred has put together this large show dedicated to furniture and décor from the early nineteenth to the early 21st century. Alfred has included groundbreaking tables, storage units, lighting and — no surprise here, considering Alfred's specialty — graphics. Laudably, Alfred takes a chronological look at how technological advancements informed the development of modernism, starting with a bentwood chair from 1808 by Samuel Gragg. Its overall form is very sleek, with a gracefully curving back, but the details are very different, being almost precious, like the little hooves that mark the termination of the legs. One of the newest pieces in the show is "Roadrunner," a chair from 2006 by Colorado's own David Larabee and Dexter Thornton working together as DoubleButter. Made of a cheap synthetic, the chair is nonetheless elegant. In between the two chairs, Alfred has installed a wide assortment of classics from the annals of modernism. Through November 30, 2011, at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, www.denverartmuseum.org. Reviewed December 23.