Clyfford Still. For the opening of the Clyfford Still Museum, director Dean Sobel has installed a career survey of the great artist that starts with the artist's realist self-portrait and features his remarkable post-impressionist works from the 1920s. Next are Still's works from the '30s, with some odd takes on regionalism and some figurative surrealist paintings. Then there's his first great leap forward, as the representational surrealist works give way to abstract ones. Looking at the work dating from the '40s and '50s, it's easy to see why Still is regarded as one of the great masters of American art. Through December 31 at the Clyfford Still Museum, 1250 Bannock Street, 720-354-4880, clyffordstillmuseum.org. Reviewed January 31.
Faces, Places & Spaces. Put together by the Arvada Center's Collin Parson, who was recently named exhibition manager there, this wide-ranging group show is unquestionably one of the most ambitious and interesting exhibits of this summer. To organize Faces, Places & Spaces, Parson reached out to many of the city's galleries to serve as allies and collaborators in the creation of the show, producing a lot of good will. The resulting selections led to a show dominated by — though not limited to — Colorado artists. Though Parson did sample the work of a handful of conceptualists, notably Adam Milner and Evan Colbert, most of the artists on view are engaged in some kind of realism. In this stylistic realm, there's a virtual Who's Who of contemporary realists and hyper-realists in Colorado including Nate Baldwin, Lui Ferreyra, Monique Crine, Irene Delka McCray, Wes Magyar, Barbara Shark, Laurel Swab, M. Vlasic, Sharon Feder, Sarah McKenzie, Rick Dula, Lanny DeVuono and, lastly, Sharon Brown, who is represented by 33 portraits from her "Creators" series. Through August 26 at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Boulevard, 720-898-7200, www.arvadacenter.org. Reviewed July 26.
Solitude. Though the title of this summer show at the William Havu Gallery might suggest a solo, it's actually a packed group effort. Gallery director Bill Havu has selected paintings and works on paper by more than a dozen artists, all of whom are interested in depicting the landscape or some other natural subject. The artists, several of whom live and work in Colorado, are from Havu's stable; a number of them are newcomers to the gallery and are making their debuts in this show. Stylistically, the work reflects a wide range of interests, including the neo-traditionalism of Jeff Aeling, Jean Gumpper and Ray Knaub, the neo-transcendentalism of Lui Ferreyra and Tracy and Sushe Felix, the expressionism of James Cook, Stephen Dinsmore, Jane Abrams and Debra Salopek, and the contemporary realism of Michael Burrows, Lloyd Brown, Rick Dula and Mary Mito. The installation has been done so that each artist is given his or her own space and each artist's vision gives way to the next. Through September 15 at the William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360, www.williamhavugallery.com. Reviewed August 2.
The Surface Beneath. The artists in The Surface Beneath
Dirk De Bruycker, Brandon Bultman, Ian Fisher and Gary Emrich — create disparate works, but each is given his own space in the exhibit. It begins with a solo given over to De Bruycker, who has written that the sights of the tropics, with their abundant insect, bird and animal life, provided inspiration for these visually rich color-field paintings. Next up is Bultman, an emerging Colorado conceptualist interested in translating his personal experiences into works of art. His not-to-be-missed installation is made up of found elements, the most remarkable of which is a 1959 Buick station wagon that's been flipped onto its roof and has plants growing out from the underside. Shifting gears is a nearby section devoted to some of Fisher's signature cloud paintings. A contemporary realist, Fisher precisely records the look of the passing clouds, without no reference to the land underneath. The last of the four, Emrich, is represented by his multi-channel video installation, "Contact," which compares bees landing on flowers to men landing on the moon. Through September 1 at Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee Street, 303-298-7788, www.robischongallery.com. Reviewed August 9.
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Theodore Waddell. With the increasing interest in modern and contemporary Western art,
Abstract Angus, curated by the DAM's Thomas Smith, is perfectly timed. From the entrance to the Gates Family Gallery, visitors are confronted by "Monida Angus," a mural so big you can't see it all until you get inside. Running across four large panels, the painting — which was specially created for this show — depicts cattle grazing in the foreground of a mountain range. Or at least that's what it looks like from across the room, because when you get up close, the cattle and scrub and even the mountains and sky are nothing more than rough and heavy smears of paint. This is true of all the Waddells here; some of them are almost non-objective, with hardly any landscape referents at all. For instance, "Motherwell's Angus," from the DAM's collection, is made up solely of a scruffy, dirty-white color field over which black dashes have been randomly inserted to stand in for the cows on a snow-covered plain. Through December 2 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, www.denverartmuseum.org. Reviewed June 28.
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. Laudably, he takes a chronological look at how technological advancements informed the development of modernism and has installed a wide assortment of classics from the annals of the style. Through November 30 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, www.denverartmuseum.org. Reviewed December 23.