Mi Linda Soledad. This large exhibit at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center zeroes in on the career of one of Colorado's most important abstract painters, Emilio Lobato. The show's title, which means "My Beautiful Solitude," refers both to Lobato's life growing up in the San Luis Valley and to the often somber pictures he creates. The show begins with a handful of pieces from the 1980s, but really hits its stride with the pieces done in the '90s and later. Many of the paintings reflect Lobato's interest in straight lines and systematically organized forms, which he reconciles with his Hispanic-culture-based interest in rich color. The show reveals that Lobato has followed different paths over the years, but they've all led in the same direction. The CSFAC is a fitting venue for this show because of Lobato's attachment to it, forged during his years at nearby Colorado College, where he studied, as Dale Chisman did, with Mary Chenoweth. Through May 15 at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 30 West Dale Street, Colorado Springs, 1-719-634-5581, www.csfineartscenter.org. Reviewed March 24.
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.
Thought Objects et al. Mark Sink is the impresario behind the Month of Photography, which runs annually from mid-March to mid-April, and because he's involved in RedLine, he made that venue the nerve center for the photo festivities that have taken place all over town. Not only that, but he was intimately involved with the three shows on view at RedLine that could collectively be regarded as the MoP's halo event. Thought Objects: New Ideas in Photography was curated by Sink; in it, he brings together photographers from across the country — with a big contingent of Denverites — all of whom do experimental work. This quirky exhibit leads directly into the impressive Discoveries of the Houston FotoFest, which highlights the output of ten invited artists in some depth. The participants in this traveling show were chosen from last year's FotoFest. Finally, installed in the RedLine Project Room is the other Sink-curated show, Modern Uses of Alternative Processes, surveying contemporary photographers who employ archaic production methods and materials. Through April 26 at RedLine, 2350 Arapahoe Street, 303-296-4448, www.redlineart.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.
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