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.
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 and 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.
Phil Bender and Justin Beard. For his annual solo at Pirate, a co-op that he's kept alive almost single-handedly, Phil Bender looks at board games and cards. In Phil Bender: Games People Play — Part Deux, Bender's method is to appropriate ready-made objects and to arrange them in grids. The walls of the front space are lined with game boards — Monopoly, Parcheesi, and a few different generations of Clue. In this way, the powerful graphic quality of the boards is pushed to the forefront. The back wall, covered with Parcheesi boards, is particularly striking. Supplementing the game boards are cards — most notably, Monaco Grand Prix cards — and some weird jewelry, including bracelets made from tokens like Monopoly's Scottie dog. Justin Beard: Release, installed in the Associates Space, also takes up ready-made materials, but to a very different end. On the floor is a pile of bricks stacked up crudely into a mound. Against the front wall, Beard has hung an oversized backpack and a row of filled garbage bags. Given the title, perhaps the topic of the show is the idea of letting go of stored energy. Through June 9 at Pirate: Contemporary Art, 3655 Navajo Street, 303-458-6058, pirateonline.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's 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 '80s suddenly brought her oeuvre up to date. The show follows her work from the '40s through the 2000s. Through July 14 at the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, 1311 Pearl Street, 303-832-8576, kirklandmuseum.org. Reviewed May 30.
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