Ania Gola-Kumor. One of Colorado's greatest abstract painters is the star of Ania Gola-Kumor: Moving Paint, at Sandra Phillips Gallery. These large oil paintings, along with small works on paper that were done in oil stick and oil bar, represent both a continuation of Gola-Kumor's longstanding interests and a new development in terms of the increased density of line she employs. For many years, one of Gola-Kumor's signatures has been her layering of overlapping forms, which creates a pure abstraction. Although the compositions are clearly non-objective, there's the suggestion that there may be recognizable imagery underneath — but Gola-Kumor has so heavily worked over the surfaces with luscious and voluptuous strokes of toned-up paint, it's truly impossible to make out the details, if there are any. Also traditional is Gola-Kumor's skill as a colorist, and whether she's using dark, rich tones, or light, airy ones, she expertly orchestrates them, coming up with distinctive palettes for each of her works. The standouts are two monumental horizontal pieces, "#11" and "#22," both of which are breathtaking. Through June 1 at Sandra Phillips Gallery, 420 West 12th Avenue, 303-573-5969, thesandraphillipsgallery.com.
Charles Partridge Adams. Rocky Mountain Majesty: The Paintings of Charles Partridge Adams highlights the career of a prominent turn-of-the-nineteenth-century impressionist who lived and worked in Colorado for decades. Adams first came to Colorado in 1876, when he was only eighteen years old. He was self-taught, but worked informally in Denver with Helen Henderson Chain, who in turn had studied with George Inness. By the 1890s, like many other landscape painters of the time, Adams embraced impressionism, with his signature style becoming increasingly more expressive into the 1910s. Adams was part of a generation of landscape painters who were grounded in Hudson River School aesthetics. But like other American impressionists, he blended this classic sensibility with the painterly devices being revealed at the time in France. In 1917, Partridge retired to California. Thomas Smith, the DAM's Curator of Western American Art, has chosen three dozen examples of the artist's best work. Through September 8 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, www.denverartmuseum.org.
Gather and Gentle Motion. One of the largest galleries in Denver, Walker Fine Art is able to accommodate a couple of solos and a group show and still have plenty of open space. Right now the enormous front section is housing the solos Gather, featuring paintings by Pennsylvania artist Brigan Gresh, and Gentle Motion, which is made up of kinetic sculptures by Roger Hubbard of Arizona. The Gresh paintings are very labor-intensive and covered with delicate pencil lines that are only visible up close; their waxy surface treatments are also remarkable. The Hubbards — which move when touched — are made of shiny stainless-steel rods, panels and sheets, and resemble giant pieces of jewelry. In the back, artists from the Walker stable have been put together for a group outing. There are hard-edged abstract paintings with unexpected organic shapes by Angela Beloian; a group of digitally sourced collaborative works on glass by the father-and-son team of Mark and Canyon Castator; and, finally, a trio of Don Quade's earth-toned mixed-media abstract compositions. Through May 31 at Walker Fine Art, 300 West 11th Avenue, #A, 303-355-8955walkerfineart.com. Reviewed May 9.
Mind Over Matter. This umbrella show at Space Gallery includes four solos that work together seamlessly. In the entry space is Carlene Frances, featuring the artist's distinctive abstracts done with an extremely limited palette. In some it's cool shades of black, white and gray, while in others it's a warm sepia. In the adjoining space is Karen Scharer, which comprises the work of a plein-air painter who does abstractions inspired by the environment rather than the typical landscapes that come with this style. The double-height gallery to the south is split between Patricia Aaron and Ian McLaughlin. The scuffed and heavily worked Aaron paintings, which have a sumptuous dull glow owing to the waxy encaustics she used, are the artist's response to painted-out and covered-over graffiti. McLaughlin's paintings feature stacked-up vegetal shapes that he describes as "botanical science fiction"; he adds an "x factor" in the form of collaborators who are invited to insert elements into the paintings. Through June 1 at Space Gallery, 765 Santa Fe Drive, 720-904-1088, spacegallery.org. Reviewed May 23.
Pattern Play. Pattern Play: The Contemporary Designs of Jacqueline Groag, at the Denver Art Museum, is one of many shows that make up Spun, a museum-wide event that's anchored by fabrics or other materials. The pieces on view were selected by Darrin Alfred, curator of the architecture, design and graphics department, and were mostly taken from the vast collection of modernist textiles assembled by Jill Wiltse and Kirk Brown. Born in Czechoslovakia, Groag went to Vienna to study with Josef Hoffman, then to Paris, where she designed fabrics for Chanel, among others. With her husband, Jacques Groag, she moved to England on the eve of World War II. It was in post-war Britain that she emerged as a major player in pattern design. This show includes many examples of her fabrics — in the form of beautifully preserved swatches — as well as drawings and sketches that were done in preparation for the finished products. There are also designs for other materials like laminate tabletops. Through September 8 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, www.denverartmuseum.org.
Phyllis Hutchinson Montrose. Kirkland Museum director Hugh Grant has made rediscovering historic Colorado artists something of a specialty, and has featured several once-famous artists who had previously been forgotten, including Al Wynne, William Sanderson and Frank Vavra. But for In Thin Air: The Art of Phyllis Hutchinson Montrose, Grant has tapped an artist with a nearly seventy-year career who was little known before this show. Part of the reason for this anonymity is that Montrose was associated with the long-gone and almost completely undocumented art scene in Central City, where she was a protégée of regular visitor and art celebrity Julio de Diego and of the town fs acknowledged master, Angelo di Benedetto. Montrose began working in the 1950s in representational surrealism, and in this, she was behind the times, as her style recalled pre-war art. But in a strange twist, the reappearance of surrealism in the f80s suddenly brought her oeuvre up to date. The show follows her work from the f40s through the 2000s. Through July 14 at the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, 1311 Pearl Street, 303-832-8576, kirklandmuseum.org.
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