Catalyst. The beautiful grounds of the Denver Botanic Gardens are the ideal place to mount an outdoor sculpture show, and over the past few years, there has been one such presentation after another. This year, the theme is contemporary sculptors in Colorado. The pieces are picturesquely sited throughout in clearings or along the walkways, but since the place is a labyrinth of trails, make sure to get a map to guide you through. Lisa Eldred, DBG director of exhibitions, ably selected some of the top names in the field, but as she's pointed out, the show is hardly encyclopedic; still, she did attempt to include some of the most famous practitioners in the medium, notably James Surls, Linda Fleming and Robert Mangold. Other Colorado sculpture stars in the show are Emmett Culligan, Kim Dickey, Nancy Lovendahl, Terry Maker, Andy Miller, Patrick Marold, Pard Morrison, Carl Reed and Yoshitomo Saito. The work of Saito, based on twigs cast in bronze, seems perfect in this sylvan setting, and the DBG ought to acquire one for its permanent collection. Through January 12 at the Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York Street, 720-865-3200, botanicgardens.org.
Collin Parson. Collin Parson wears two hats in the local art world — three, if you count the fact that he's the son of prominent area sculptor Charles Parson. One is as the director of the visual-art program at the Arvada Center; the other is as an artist. Working with light as his chief medium, Parson is currently the subject of a good-looking solo at Z Art Department with the preposterous title ReWorked: the Collin Parson Experience. The show is something like a brief survey of Parson's work done over the past few years, with the oldest pieces dating back to 2008 and the newest ones done only in the past few months. Parson's work is in the form of lightboxes — that is, boxes that hang on the wall and have internal lighting. The earliest boxes are made of wood that's been painted black, with voids routed out that allow the light to come through. At first Parson used fluorescent lights, but as time has gone on, he's switched to LEDs, which allow the colors to change periodically. For the newer pieces, Parson switched to acrylic panels in a range of colors and with laser-cut voids. Through September 15 at Z Art Department, 1136 Speer Boulevard, 303-298-8432, email@example.com. Reviewed August 15.
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Jae Ko, Lisa Stefanelli, Linda Fleming, et al. The Robischon summer series begins with Jae Ko, an eponymous single-artist show given over to post-minimal wall pieces by the Korean-born, Washington, D.C.-based artist. Ko dyes and twists paper, then shapes it to her desired forms. Also at the gallery is Lisa Stefanelli, dedicated to a post-abstract expressionist from back east. For these paintings, Stefanelli has created grounds using sprayed automotive paints, then added carefully rendered "scribbles" by hand. Up next is Linda Fleming, which features the work of a part-time resident of the state and a key figure in the history of contemporary art here. Fleming's pieces are wall-mounted sculptures made of steel, either chrome-plated or carried out in powder-coated colors. Then there is a group show, Ted Larsen, Peter Millett and Don Voisine, which highlights three individual takes on minimalism. The last of the exhibits, Andrew Millner, is different, as the works displayed are not abstracts, but depictions of flowers. Through August 31 at Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee Street, 303-298-7788, robischongallery.com. Reviewed August 8.
Nick Cave. Though it's billed separately — and requires separate tickets — Nick Cave: Sojourn is the pièce de résistance
of Spun, the over-the-top salute to textiles comprising a dozen shows at the Denver Art Museum. In the center of the entry space is a found baptismal font surmounted by a bower of steel rods accented with strings of beads and little ceramic birds. This is an exemplar of Cave's latest interest: elaborate, funky assemblages that lie somewhere between sculpture and installation. Though there's plenty of childlike wonder to behold in his work — crocheted doilies, bird figurines, sock monkeys — the pieces displayed in the steady progression of connected rooms create what Cave sees as a "sacred space." The show also includes a nice selection of Cave's remarkable Soundsuits, androgynous disguises sometimes used in performances that were originally protest pieces sparked by the Rodney King beating in the '90s. There is also a group of found-object assemblage sculptures, like the baptismal font, that represent a new direction for the artist. Through September 22 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, denverartmuseum.org. Reviewed July 26.
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.