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. Reviewed March 24.
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Robert Benjamin. Denver Art Museum's photography whiz Eric Paddock has uncovered a little-known Colorado master of photography and treated him to a gorgeous solo in the photo gallery on the seventh floor of the Ponti tower. Robert Benjamin: Notes on a Quiet Life examines a man whom Paddock has described as a "photographer's photographer," and bearing that out is the fact that the curator himself discovered Benjamin through Robert Adams, the world-famous photographer who spent most of his career working in Colorado. All of the photos capture everyday sights — not just Benjamin's family and friends, but domestic interiors and shop windows. Those shop window shots are really something, with the glare on the glass adding a surrealist element reminiscent of Atget's photos. All of the Benjamins are large-format chromogenic prints that are exquisitely rich in their range of shades. The show's title perfectly captures the character of the pictures; Benjamin has said that he has personal connections with all his subjects, and it shows. Through April 17 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, www.denverartmuseum.org. Reviewed December 16.
Sight Unseen. One knock that photography has always gotten is the belief that literally anyone can take a great photo. This idea seems to be partly an underpinning for a traveling show, Sight Unseen, that's made a stop at Metro's Center for Visual Art: Some of the artists included are profoundly blind, and their work is the result of chance, while others have only limited sight. The show was put together by curator Douglas McCulloh, who selected the dozen participants — some live in New York and Europe, most are from California — to examine how people see by showcasing the work of artists who can't. The most disturbing aspect of the exhibit is how good so many of the inclusions are. On its face, this undermines standard understandings about the very nature of the visual arts—that is, that it's about seeing above all else. Participants whose pictures say otherwise are Ralph Baker, Evgen Bavcar, Henry Butler, Pete Eckert, Bruce Hall, Annie Hesse, Rosita McKenzie, Gerardo Nigenda, Michael Richard, Kurt Weston, Alice Wingwall and the Seeing With Photography Collective. Through April 9 at the Center for Visual Art, 965 Santa Fe Drive, 303-294-5207, www.metrostatecva.org.
What Is Modern? Department of Architecture, Design and Graphics curator Darrin Alfred has put together this large show dedicated to furniture and decor 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 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, www.denverartmuseum.org. Reviewed December 23.
Winter Prather. A half-century ago, a generation of post-war photographers who had embraced experimentation were part of a vanguard photo scene in Denver. At the top of the heap was Winter Prather, who today is virtually forgotten. One of the reasons for his obscurity, aside from the passing of time, is that Prather descended into madness before he died, alienating nearly everyone who could have preserved the flame of his artistic brilliance. Z Art Department's Randy Roberts is aiming to change that with The Blink of an Eye: A Survey of Winter Prather's Work; it's the gallery's entry into Denver's Month of Photography. Prather, who exhibited internationally, worked in a range of forms, including landscapes and cityscapes — many set in Denver — along with abstracted still-life shots and abstractions based on industrial scenes. It is particularly in these last images that Prather reveals his undeniable greatness. Through April 9 at Z Art Department, 1136 Speer Boulevard, 303-298-8432. Reviewed March 17.