Barbara Carpenter and Janice McDonald. In the east gallery at Spark, Barbara Carpenter has assembled a large group of small photos hung in clusters, salon-style, for Walking Miss Daisy: Photographs by Barbara Carpenter. The Miss Daisy of the title is Carpenter's dog, and all of the photos have been taken on her walks with Daisy. (This idea of taking photos while walking dogs is definitely something that's in the air, since Chuck Forsman is carrying out the same idea in his show at the Denver Art Museum.) Although they've been done digitally and have a high-tech aluminum-and-acrylic presentation, some of these landscape photos have an antique look — and not just the black-and-white ones. Paired with the Carpenters are small collages in the west gallery that comprise Janice McDonald: Overlooked Artifacts. For three months last spring, McDonald created daily compositions using that day's junk mail. Though the whole thing is impressive as installed in a double stack of images wrapping around the room at eye level, the individual works are worth examining, too. Through November 17 at Spark Gallery, 900 Santa Fe Drive, 720-889-2200, sparkgallery.com.
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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 of his pieces for its permanent collection. Through January 12 at the Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York Street, 720-865-3200, botanicgardens.org. Reviewed September 19.
Don Stinson. Made up of large contemporary-realist landscapes, Don Stinson: The Road to Valentine reveals this well-known Colorado artist's principal interest: exploring the way society has intruded on nature. Most of the paintings were done in the last year or two, and all are set in the West. Stinson's technique, in oil on linen, seems to come out of classic realism, with the paint applied smoothly and the brushmarks kept to a minimum. In a couple, Stinson does renderings of other artworks, something he's done for years, though he's better known for his depictions of rural ruins. In the first, it's "Spiral Jetty," by Robert Smithson, set at the Great Salt Lake. What more can you say about a traditional depiction of a conceptual object? It's brilliant. Also great is "Early Winter Morning: Genesee Park," in which Charles Deaton's "Sculptured House" is illuminated before dawn in one panel, with the lights of Denver in the other. This solo show, the first Stinson has had in years, is a majestic offering. Through November 23 at David B. Smith Gallery, 1543A Wazee Street, 303-893-4234, davidbsmithgallery.com. Reviewed November 7.
Haze Diedrich and Lewis McInnis. In what is set to be the last show in Space's current location (with the gallery's striking new building, at Fourth and Santa Fe, to be unveiled around the first of the year), director Michael Burnett has mounted a pair of solos under the umbrella title of Structural Leanings. The artists whose work makes up the exhibit — Haze Diedrich and Lewis McInnis — are two of the state's most interesting abstractionists. Both build their compositions out of smaller shapes — non-repeating organic ones for Diedrich, and good old rectangles for McInnis. Burnett has split the gallery space down the middle, giving Diedrich the north half, McInnis the south. Though each is represented by his respective style, both are also doing something new. For Diedrich, it's taking nature and breaking it up into small clusters of elements that convey a mood rather than a particular scene. For McInnis, the dense yet regulated structures of his earlier geometric patterns have been opened up and, in some cases, dispensed with completely, replaced by big color fields that collide with one another. Through November 30 at Space Gallery, 765 Santa Fe Drive, 720-904-1088, spacegallery.org.
Laura Krudener. There's definitely a retro '60s color-field aesthetic afoot in the oversized, toned-up and elegant abstracts that make up Suspended Chaos: Laura Krudener at Plus. The exhibit represents the artist's debut offering at the gallery, as Krudener has only been in Denver for the past few years. Using raw canvas on set-back stretcher bars, Krudener pours on paint while manipulating the canvas to control the flow. Nearly all of the works included are monumental in size, with the largest, "Awakened Dreamers," being essentially a mural. Since Krudener combines acrylics with enamels, which don't mix, she's able to orchestrate some interesting curdling where the two types intersect; it's a neat effect. She adds lines and shading using charcoal and markers. The compositions are fairly simple: splashes of paint with more raw canvas than pigment seen at the surface. One thing that really makes her work look fresh — and not mid-century modern — is her taste for bold colors and the way she puts the different shades together. Especially effective is the spare use, in some places, of metallic tones. Through November 30 at Plus Gallery, 2501 Larimer Street, 303-296-0927, plusgallery.com.