Gary Emrich. Though paintings and sculptures are the stock-in-trade of its Modern and Contemporary department, the Denver Art Museum also puts the spotlight on new media, such as video, in its own dedicated space, called the Fuse Box. That's where Gary Emrich: Contact is midway through its run. Emrich, whose work has often been seen at the DAM, is a local pioneer in the video medium, and a work of his was the first video the institution ever acquired. For Contact, Emrich has created an installation that comprises two separate projections. Up toward the ceiling is a round screen on which found images of the moon appear; beyond that is a wall-sized projection of flowers and bees that Emrich created himself. Both are set to a soundtrack of NASA communicating with astronauts. The show's title equates the bees landing on the flowers to the men landing on the moon. It's impossible to mention all the free-associational connections in Contact, but a significant one is Emrich's paying homage to his father, a local filmmaker. Through April 8 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, www.denverartmuseum.org. Reviewed January 26.
Heidi Jung. A longtime Ironton resident artist is the subject of Forest for the Trees: New Work by Heidi Jung, which features a five-part monumental drawing that totals seventeen feet in length. Jung has done contemporary takes on plants for years, and in these new pieces, natural images are used to create all-over compositions with no particular focal point — like an abstraction. Jung has painted the back wall green to give the room a gladed feel and hung that "Forest" on it. Done in ink on vellum applied to flat panels, "Forest" looks like a mural. Attaching the translucent paper to the panels creates an unusual surface that looks for all the world like painting. The trees in "Forest" are aspens with their white trunks forming a regular rhythm across the long horizontal composition. Putting "Forest" in context are two small versions of the same approach, "Centercut" I and II. Also very nice are a group of works on paper, with "Mist," which is essentially white on white, standing out. Through April 7 at Ironton Studios and Gallery, 3636 Chestnut Place, 303-297-8626, www.irontonstudios.com.
Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin. Like many other shows presented in the last few months, the current solo at the Mizel's Singer Gallery is meant to celebrate last fall's opening of the Clyfford Still Museum. Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin comprises a gorgeous selection of more than a dozen paintings — some of which are enormous — by Golden's Andy Berg. Initially trained in the late '70s and early '80s at the Kansas City Art Institute, Berg put aside his brushes soon after he graduated, only picking them up again decades later, which was just a few years ago. Berg is a neo-abstract expressionist whose work comes directly out of that watershed style. These new paintings riff on any number of historic modernists as sources, in unexpected combinations. At times there's a whiff of Matisse, at others a hint of Hans Hofmann. There's even a little Jean-Michel Basquiat, especially in the pseudo writing that appears here and there. Speaking of writing, the title of the show -- and of a spectacular triptych -- translates to "the writing on the wall." Extended through April 30 at the Singer Gallery, Mizel Arts and Culture Center, 350 South Dahlia Street, 303-316-6360, www.maccjcc.org.
Still in Context. One of several recent shows meant to honor the opening of the Clyfford Still Museum, Still in Context brings together a variety of abstract artists with tenuous connections to the abstract-expressionist king. Referencing the history of American abstraction, there are works by Still contemporaries Helen Frankenthaler, David Hare and Grace Hartigan, all of whom came of age over half a century ago. Then there is a pair of mini-solos dedicated to two of Still's former students, Sam Scott and Ed Kerns. Despite this firsthand association, both Scott and Kerns do work that is distinct from that of their shared mentor. Denver's Jeremy Hillhouse, who died in 2009, is also featured in the show, represented by his signature abstracted landscapes and some pure abstractions. Hillhouse's relationship to Still is more nebulous than that of the other artists. Upstairs, Rick Dula's hyperrealist watercolors of the construction of the CSM are on display. Taken together, though the connections are loose, everything winds up being a visual feast anyway. Through April 7 at 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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