Bonny Lhotka & Norman Epp. This duet, the full title of which is Horizons: Bonny Lhotka & Norman Epp, brings together the internationally known Boulder-based digital artist with an up-and-coming Denver sculptor. Though to a great extent their individual bodies of works have decidedly different aims — Lhotka is technically a representational artist, while Epp is an abstractionist — both are beholden to trees in some way as essential to making their art. This is the glue that binds the exhibit together. Lhotka took shots of trees — sometimes at night, apparently — and digitally altered the results, then transferred the images with pigments onto sheets of glass, or, more commonly, aluminum panels. The final products have an iridescent look, with the icy tones she prefers colliding in the pictures. The Epps are done in expertly carved hardwoods from already felled trees, called repurposed wood. The wood is accented by various other materials including marble, other stones and steel. The woods, including walnut and burl-elm, are finished in deep, rich hues, like fine furniture. Through November 5 at Walker Fine Art, 300 West 11th Avenue, #A, 303-355-8955, www.walkerfineart.com.
Myron Melnick. Two years ago, Singer Gallery director Simon Zalkind came up with the idea to do a salute to Myron Melnick — an interesting choice, since the artist had been inactive for years. But the resulting show, Myron Melnick: Taking Shape: Works with Paper, is drop-dead gorgeous. Melnick works in two distinct ways, and Zalkind has featured both types in depth. Melnick created wall sculptures made of paper and also has produced a large body of monotypes. Both the sculptures and the prints combine references to classic abstraction and to the tribal art of Africa and Oceania. The various types of wall sculptures all have their own appeal, but the most ambitious ones are the monumental works Melnick made in the '90s in cast and burnished paper, mostly finished in off-white, but some with black decorations. Zalkind has chosen to feature a large number of monotypes, and as a result, the print portion of this exhibit includes the largest number of them ever shown together. Through October 16 at the Singer Gallery, Mizel Arts & Culture Center, 350 South Dahlia Street, 303-316-6360. www.maccjcc.org. Reviewed September 15.
Regina Benson and Sherry Wiggins. Occupying the southern-most exhibition space at Ice Cube is Regina Benson: On Fire, in which Benson conveys the essence of fire through textile art. Although Benson says she's been obsessed with fire and with depicting it, she got even closer to the subject last summer when she had to evacuate her home and studio in Golden because of an approaching wildfire. The views of the fire from down the hill inspired several pieces in On Fire, but others refer to molten lava or embers. The centerpiece is unquestionably the forty-foot-long enclosed walk-through, "Passage," that's defined by a pair of curving walls made from continuous bolts of cloth that run parallel to one another. Installed in the other part of Ice Cube is Sherry Wiggins: Prayers for Other, which is both the perfect complement — and the complete opposite in its intent and appearance — to On Fire. Wiggins has created a three-part installation, with a wall projection depicting people praying and two "prayer rooms" defined by silk panels that bookend it. Through October 8 at Ice Cube Gallery, 3320 Walnut Street, 303-292-1822, http://icecubegallery.com. Reviewed September 29.
Rick Dula, J. P. Sloan and Emmett Culligan. In the main space at Havu are photo-realist paintings of buildings — either those so new, they're still under construction, or those so old they're about to fall down — in Rick Dula: Rise and Fall. Dula gained local notoriety for his Hamilton Building views — there are a couple of those paintings here — and, using the same approach, a depiction of the yet-to-open Clyfford Still Museum. All of the paintings are done in acrylic on panel, and every one displays Dula's astounding eye-to-hand control with breathtaking detail. That's also the predominating characteristic of the oil paintings and watercolors that make up Jeanette Pasin Sloan, displayed under the mezzanine. Sloan's specialty is conveying the exact look of reflective surfaces, and her skill at doing it is impressive. Scattered throughout the first floor are a group of new sculptures that make up the self-titled Emmett Culligan. These abstract pieces represent a new direction for the artist, in which he uses compressed air to "inflate" molten metal to create his forms. Through November 5 at the William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360, www.williamhavugallery.com.
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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