Bayer & Chisman. From the 1940s to the 1970s, Aspen's Herbert Bayer was one of the premier artists in Colorado, and from the '80s to the first decade of the 21st century, Denver's Dale Chisman played a similar role. But beyond that, their work has little in common, with Bayer going for a hard-edged line while Chisman preferred a soft meandering one. For Juxtapozition: Bayer & Chisman, Z Art Dept. gallery director Randy Roberts has actually found the connection: Both artists were at home with the mediums of printmaking and drawing, which isn't always true of painters. While Bayer's prints are more or less extensions of his paintings, or at least variations of them, Chisman created work that was specifically intended to be printed, and his prints stand apart from his paintings. There are also works in other mediums on display here, including a couple of those powerful Chisman paintings where the distinction is easy to see. Also included is a stunning Hugh Acton sculpture sitting in the middle of the room, as well as other sculptures including a Fred Myer screen. Through November 13 at Z Art Department, 1136 Speer Boulevard, 303-298-8432, www.zartdept.com.
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.
Bradley Borthwick. In Bradley Borthwick: Not All Borthwicks Were Noblemen, an ambitious installation show at Ironton, Denver artist Bradley Borthwick has conjured up an elaborate personal historical narrative. Centuries ago, Borthwick's noble ancestors were slaughtered at Flodden, Scotland, at the hands of Englishmen using longbows. This story is only obliquely and abstractly told in the various elements that make up the show, with Borthwick's genealogy and family history being two of the themes addressed; the others are aggression, violence, ritual and the masculine cult of the warrior. Borthwick has constructed a handsome apparatus made of a transparent plastic tube mounted on wooden risers. The tube pierces the wall between the kitchen and the gallery and continues partway through the space. During a performance, Borthwick shot arrows through it. Borthwick also shows his prowess in archery in a video projection in which he enacts a symbol-rich ceremony accompanied by a haunting soundtrack of vocals and drums that he composed. Through October 22 at the Ironton Studios and Gallery, 3636 Chestnut Place, 303-297-8626, www.irontonstudios.com. Reviewed September 29.
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.
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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