Chuck Close. In the last few years, the Loveland Museum and Gallery has stepped up its game by presenting the work of famous artists. And the beat goes on with Chuck Close: A Couple of Ways of Doing Something. Close first came to the fore in the 1970s with hyper-realist portraits based on photos. As his work matured in the 1980s, he developed his own brand of pointillism to carry out his imagery (which still made obvious references to photography). In 1988, though, Close suffered a spinal artery collapse that left him mostly paralyzed from the neck down. But after only six months of physical therapy, he was painting again — first with a brush in his teeth and then with one strapped to his wrist! The Loveland show features his photos, including a set of works based on a series of 2004 daguerreotypes depicting his friends. There are also digital prints and amazing jacquard tapestries on view here. Through December 31 at the Loveland Museum and Gallery, 503 Lincoln Avenue, Loveland, 1-970-962-2410, www.ci.loveland.co.us. Reviewed October 20.
Robert Adams. Robert Adams: The Place We Live, at the Denver Art Museum, is made up of more than 200 black-and-white prints put together by the Yale University Art Gallery's Joshua Chuang and Jock Reynolds. But for its stop in Denver, DAM photo curator Eric Paddock, a longtime friend of Adams's, tweaked the traveling show, becoming a co-curator of sorts. The Place We Live forces viewers to realize that Adams did many other things aside from his famous and unforgettable images indicting humanity's destruction of the earth — though they are enough to ensure his place in art history. The show includes a number of revelations. First is how intimate his pieces are, owing to their small size. Second is his unexpected debt to the great survey photographers of the nineteenth century, notably Timothy O'Sullivan. Finally, from a technical standpoint, there is the incredible high quality of his prints, which likewise recall historic landscape photos. Through January 1 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, www.denverartmuseum.org. Reviewed October 27.
Touch the Earth. This duet deals with unusual takes on the landscape tradition. One half is made up of Anna Kaye's meticulous photo-realist drawings that depict Colorado wildfires in graphite and charcoal. These drawings often have a monumental quality that, in the case of some, is enhanced by their enormous size. In "Apex," a single burned-out tree, reduced to a vertical shaft, looks defiant in the face of destruction; in another, Kaye shows the fire as it's burning. Kaye also has created a video of the recovery of the Hayman fire area. The other half of the exhibit consists of paintings and drawings by Lorelei Schott that have literally been buried in the ground so that the stains of the soils and other elements become the basis for her all-over abstract grounds. She then further marks the canvases with lines that carry out nature-based forms. The show also includes three of her abstract drawings from the "Crimes Against Nature" series. Through November 19 at the Sandra Phillips Gallery, Santa Fe Drive, 303-573-5969, www.thesandraphillipsgallery.com. Reviewed November 3.
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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.