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 Myers 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.
Chuck Forsman, Kevin O'Connell, Danae Falliers. In the front spaces at Robischon is Chuck Forsman: Interstate Alms, a major painting exhibit devoted to pieces done over the last few years by a Colorado legend. Beginning in the '70s, Forsman became widely known for his conceptual realist paintings that recorded the intrusion of civilization into the once pristine wilderness. His work has a decidedly political edge that's associated with the environmental movement. Stylistically, it's almost as though Forsman has crossed hyper-realism with magic realism to come up with these idiosyncratic landscapes. In the next set of spaces is a much more poetic approach to the landscape: Kevin O'Connell: Moments of Inertia is made up of gorgeous pigment prints on aluminum sheets that depict the high plains. O'Connell, a well-known Colorado photographer, has underscored the inherent horizontality of the prairie by creating exaggeratedly horizontal images. In the adjacent spaces is a photo solo, Danae Falliers: Semi, part of the Denver photographer's series on interstate highways. Through October 29 at Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee Street, 303-298-7788, www.robischongallery.com. Reviewed October 13.
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. Reviewed October 6..
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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