Design for the Other 90%. This traveling exhibit from the Cooper-Hewitt in New York — the national design museum of the Smithsonian Institution — is being presented at RedLine, which is strange, as it relates more to technology than to art. Not only that, but it's way too small for Redline, and it leaves too much floor space. The underlying concept of the exhibit is that nearly all design is made for the developed world, which is a distinct minority of the human population — hence the 90% reference. The relevant people live in the underdeveloped world in Africa, Asia, Latin America and even poor parts of rich countries, like New Orleans after Katrina. Cooper-Hewitt curator Cynthia Smith and others selected the pieces, and they clearly had their hearts in the right place. But their eyes were apparently shut, since most of the pieces are only about function, leaving beauty out of the equation. There are some objects that achieve both, but most do not. Through September 25 at Redline, 2350 Arapahoe Street, 303-296-4448, http://redlineart.org. Reviewed August 18.
Marvelous Mud. This homegrown blockbuster is not a single show but rather eight different ones, all about clay. In the Ponti tower are Potters of Precision: The Coors Porcelain Company; Nampeyo: Excellence by Name; Mud to Masterpiece: Mexican Colonial Ceramics; Blue and White: A Ceramic Journey; and Dirty Pictures, made up of photos that include all kinds of soils. Over in the Hamilton, there's Marajó: Ancient Ceramics at the Mouth of the Amazon; Overthrown: Clay Without Limits; and Focus: Earth & Fire. Through September 18 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, www.denverartmuseum.org. Reviewed July 21.
Michael Burnett and Lewis McInnis; William Stoehr. The duet Dissection & Deregulation: Michael Burnett and Lewis McInnis occupies the main gallery at Space, and the abstract paintings by the two artists work beautifully together. though they have little in common. The Scottish-born Burnett, who owns Space, is known for his pared-down abstractions with smooth surfaces and repeated motifs striking a balance between minimalism and patterning. McInnis, who lives in northern Colorado, does geometric abstractions that are rendered as blurry and smeary. He has more than two dozen marvelous pieces on display here. William Stoehr: Masks & Mirrors is a major show installed in the back gallery. Though Stoehr's works are nominally representational — in this case, portraits of women's faces — his painterly techniques originate in abstraction. Through September 10 at Space Gallery, 765 Santa Fe Drive, 720-904-1088, http://spacegallery.org. Reviewed September 1.
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.