15 Colorado Artists. The Kirkland Museum is presenting a historical show that tracks the beginnings of post-war modernism in Denver using the artist group 15 Colorado Artists as an index. The story goes that the Denver Artists Guild was hostile to modernism at the time. This led to a split, with the modernists breaking off to form their own organization, the 15, which included Jean Charlot, Mina Conant, Angelo Di Benedetto, Vance Kirkland, William Sanderson and Frank Vavra. Eventually, many more joined. The exhibit was put together by collector and art history sleuth Deborah Wadsworth and museum director Hugh Grant. One interesting revelation is how tepid these early modern works were and that, despite the fact that the traditional artists (and the Denver Post) thought of them as "radicals," the members of the 15 were pretty conservative. As a result, the exhibit proves beyond any doubt that Colorado Springs — and not Denver — was where modernism was happening in the state in the '40s. Through July 31 at the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, 1311 Pearl Street, 303-832-8576, www.kirklandmuseum.org.
Her Gaze/Su Mirada. Curated by Museo de las Américas director Maruca Salazar, this show brings together five Latina photographers. The idea implicit in the title is that women have a different perspective on photography than men do, but the exhibit itself doesn ft really bear that out. The work includes photo enlargements of skin and wood grains by Yesika Felix; traditional black-and-whites of village life by Graciela Iturbide that focus on women and on transsexuals; retro, 1930s black-and-white nudes by Flor Garduño; and Kathy Vargas's altered overlapping images with touches of color and an altar-like installation about her mother. But the star of the show is Delilah Montoya, who does scenic shots in color of the trails made by Mexican migrants coming to the U.S. as well as a group of unforgettable portraits of Chicana boxers done in crisp black and white. One shortcoming is the design of the exhibit, which doesn't make sense, because the artists are all mixed up instead of each having been given her own space. Through May 27 at the Museo de las Americas, 861 Santa Fe Drive, 303-571-4401, www.museo.org.
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.
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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