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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, Reviewed September 19.

Clark Richert. In the few years it's been in business, Gildar Gallery has mostly showcased young and up-and-coming artists, but with Dimension and Symmetry: Clark Richert, the intimate space on Broadway has moved to Denver's big time, as Richert is among the best-known artists in the state. The show comes complete with an essay by Cydney Payton, former director of MCA Denver, and was co-curated by Robin Rule, the artist's longtime representative. It features ten major paintings, some digital prints and a projection. Though all the paintings reveal Richert's interest in mathematical formulas — formulas he uses to determine his patterns — and in straight lines, the pieces actually vary quite a bit. There are the expected all-over patterns — his signature approach — some carried out in vaporous shades, others in toned-up colors. And there are paintings depicting actual landscapes, including one of the world-famous art community Drop City, which Richert and others founded in the 1960s. The painting, which takes an archly geometric approach to perspective, depicts a scene populated by domed structures made from wrecked cars. Through January 18 at Gildar Gallery, 82 South Broadway, 303-993-4474,

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, Reviewed November 7.

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,

Tracy Weil. The fall show at Ironton, Los Esqueletos: New Work by Tracy Weil, is filled with depictions of skeletons and skulls. But given Weil's interest in creating work that's fun to look at, the mood of the show is anything but gloomy; it was inspired by a Latin American children's song in which skeletons are used to teach kids how to count and tell time. Though technically each painting illustrates a particular line of the song with the correspondingly correct number of skeletons in it, Weil's exuberance leads him to use many more instead. For example, in "When the clock strikes two, two skeletons eat rice," the two eating from a bowl refer to the title while many others are used as a motif. Weil has been working as an artist since the '80s, and the sensibility of these paintings — with their wild brushwork, jarring colors and crude renderings — is definitely an outgrowth of that era, so it's not surprising to learn that the artist admires Jean-Michel Basquiat, the late neo-expressionist genius, and considers Denver's own Susan Wick to be his most important mentor. Through November 30 at the Ironton Studios and Gallery, 3636 Chestnut Place, 303-297-8626,


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