20th Century Modernists. For her first show, Thérèse O'Gorman — who moved from Santa Fe to become the exhibition director at David Cook Fine Art in LoDo — has put together 20th Century Modernists, which highlights abstraction done in the West. The show proper, in the street-level space, is dedicated to New Mexico artists, but O'Gorman has also done a chaser to it, on the lower level, which includes historic abstractionists active in Colorado. As usual for David Cook, there is no shortage of first-rate material by the most significant artists from the period. Among the standouts on the main floor are the Kandinsky-esque compositions of Emil Bisttram; the non-objective pieces by Raymond Jonson, the master of using hard margins to differentiate forms; and the lyrical automatist work by Beatrice Mandelman. Downstairs, O'Gorman has mixed in the work of Colorado modernists as an extension of the show upstairs, including some choice abstract landscapes by Ethel Magafan. The revelation, however, is Charles Bunnell's constructivism, exemplified by three paintings of the type. Through February 28 at David Cook Fine Art, 1637 Wazee Street, 303-623-8181, davidcookfineart.com. Reviewed January 24.
Object/Nature. An important group effort at Robischon, Object/Nature features six contemporary artists dealing with the landscape in their highly individual works. Walking into the front space feels like wandering into a winter forest filled with bare white trees: Sculptor John McEnroe has found the forms of his resin sculptures by appropriating the shapes of things that already exist — in this case, dead trees. In the next space are David Zimmer's signature high-tech wall installations, in which the past is reconciled to the future and there's a compromise between nature and science. Karen Kitchel is up next, with a nice selection of her staggeringly accurate hyper-realistic renditions of grasses done in oil on panels. In the space behind are three videos by William Lamson, the obvious subjects of which are, respectively, a bottle, a Mylar blanket, and Lamson himself. The less obvious topics of all three are the forces of nature. Finally, there's a duet in the back gallery made up of collages by Tyler Beard and Kim Dickey's ceramic and photographic takes on topiary. Through March 2 at Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee Street, 303-298-7788, www.robischongallery.com. Reviewed February 14.
Sam Scott & Jim Waid; Homare Ikeda. The spacious main floor at the William Havu Gallery has been given over to a strong duet, 100 Years of Painting: Sam Scott & Jim Waid. The reason that the century mark is referenced in the title is because Scott and Waid each have a fifty-year-art-career under their individual belts. Scott, who has long lived in New Mexico, creates paintings that at first glance appear to exemplify abstract expressionism. Closer examination, however, reveals various cues indicating that underneath the daubs and smears lies a landscape -- which in turn explains why the series on view is called "Earth, Water and Sky." Waid hails from Tucson, and he also refers to nature in his abstracted scenes, but he's more obvious, using a number of recognizable elements like birds and cactus, though there's also a lot of pure abstraction mixed in. His style is something like a cross between black velvet paintings and Jean-Michel Basquiat compositions. Upstairs on the mezzanine is a show devoted to Homare Ikeda's quirky abstracts, which luxuriously stack painterly gestures and oddball forms. Through March 2 at William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360, www.williamhavugallery.com. Reviewed February 14.
William Stoehr; Jason Lee Gimbel et al. In the front room at Space is an impressive solo, William Stoehr: Icons, made up of a series of large, in-your-face portraits done in a wild expressionist style. Stoehr, from Boulder, takes an action-painting approach, using smears of paint that have been rapidly laid down to carry out the features of a woman's face. In most, the sitter stares unblinkingly out at the viewer, making the experience all but confrontational. In the room behind, gallery director Michael Burnett has curated a small show of other types of figuration, especially the paintings and works on paper of emerging artist Jason Lee Gimbel. Though this selection is somewhat uneven, the best of the paintings — and all of the drawings — are very good. Across from the Gimbels are a group of posthumous prints based on paintings by the late Mark Travis. The last player in this section is Rafa Jenn, who is represented by beautifully done colored-pencil drawings of retro pinup girls. (Jenn is a pseudonym for a well-known local artist who has chosen to remain anonymous.) Through March 15 at Space Gallery, 765 Santa Fe Drive, 720-904-1088, www.spacegallery.org.
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