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.
Continental Drift. To create Continental Drift, MCA Denver curator Nora Burnett Abrams and Aspen Art Museum curator Jacob Proctor looked at the work of more than 300 Colorado artists who had submitted portfolios. Abrams and Proctor then winnowed the hundreds of submitters down to a mere twenty and scheduled them for studio visits. Only seven of those were selected for the exhibit, with the theme of "place" emerging as the tissue that connects the diverse work of each. At the MCA — the show travels to the AAM later this fall — Continental Drift has been installed in several spaces, with one of the galleries quite far from the others. It thus has the character of a set of shows as opposed to a singular endeavor, an impression that is reinforced by the fact that the various artists' work is so disparate and disconnected. Continental Drift therefore reads as two solos (Jeanne Liotta and Christina Battle); a duet (Adam Milner and Yumi Janairo Roth); and a trio (Edie Winograde, Scott Johnson and Sarah McKenzie). Through September 23 at MCA Denver, 1485 Delgany Street, 303-298-7554, www.mcadenver.org. Reviewed August 23.
Ellis, Kaleda, Kerrane. In a small niche carved out of the front space at Edge is Jessica Ellis: Curioscapes, a cozy installation that includes found objects — many from nature, like the wasp nest on a twig — and archaic photos of natural specimens (a la Anna Atkins) in white on blue. For Ellis, these natural curiosities are converted into artifacts in a nineteenth-century English naturalist sort of way. In the main part of the front gallery is Reverie, by Davis Kaleda, featuring photos, including some funky Polaroid prints on fragments of Coke cans, that have a retro and neo-pop flavor. These images, both color and black and white, cover a wide range of subjects. In the other member space beyond is Rian Kerrane: Tug/Pull/Cut, made up of four unusual mixed-media wall installations playing on the theme of connections, all of which come from the artist's "Tow Rope" series. Kerrane combines cast-metal elements in iron and aluminum with rope, strings, cords and doll parts, along with prints depicting ropes or cables. Everything is then lined up to convey the idea of tensile relationships — which is only illusory and pictorial, not actual. Through September 9 at Edge Gallery, 3658 Navajo Street, 303-477-7173, edgeart.org.
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.
Theodore Waddell. With the increasing interest in modern and contemporary Western art, Theodore Waddell's 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.
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