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.
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, gildargallery.com.
Court to Cafe. Angelica Daneo, the Denver Art Museum's associate curator of painting and sculpture, has seriously reinterpreted a traveling show called Masters of French Art, by imposing a historic structure that guided her selections. Renamed Court to Cafe, the works come from the collection of the Wadsworth Atheneum, with the show being part of the DAM's larger Passport to Paris. In a series of rooms in the Anschutz Gallery, Daneo has laid out the development of France through its art from the time of kings and queens, to the French Revolution and its aftermath, to the rise of Paris as a modern city. The exhibit begins in the 17th and 18th centuries and concludes with the great masters of the 19th century that made France the center of the art world at that time. Daneo hit a home run with this one, but then again, how can you go wrong with a series of rooms that culminate with the rise of impressionism and post-impressionism? Who can't appreciate that stuff? Through February 9 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, denverartmuseum.org; tickets are required. Reviewed November 28.
David Kimball Anderson et al. The winter offerings at Robischon include four distinct exhibits, with the marquee offering, David Kimball Anderson: Altitude, installed in the series of spaces immediately inside the entrance. Altitude marks the first Denver solo for this California artist, who has used the opportunity to fill the space with installations meant to evoke the journey of twentieth-century Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche; not surprisingly, the show includes evocations of the Buddha. Beyond the connecting space is Bill Armstrong, a display of photo-based works by this New York artist concerning the Buddha and the mandala. Beyond is Gibson + Recoder: Transparency, in which New York couple Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder use old-fashioned film projectors and film as key materials in their sculptures and projections. Finally, in the niche space, is Chuck Forsman: From the Vietnamerican Series, which comprises a quartet of the Boulder artist's mashed-up views of the U.S. and Vietnam. Through December 28 at Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee Street, 303-298-7788, robischongallery.com.
Nature as Muse. This homegrown blockbuster — part of the Passport to Paris series — was curated by Denver Art Museum director Christoph Heinrich, who's proven over and over that he's a curator at heart. To organize it, Heinrich mined the rich vein of impressionism in the museum's permanent collection and combined works from it with selections from the collection of Frederic C. Hamilton, for whom the wing is named. These Hamilton paintings have for the most part not been exhibited in public in anyone's memory. The show starts with the foundational work of the realists and quickly shifts to the pioneering work of the impressionists; then there's a section devoted to American followers of the French-based movement, and finally, a salute to Monet, the star of Nature as Muse, many of whose paintings are included, notably the DAM's "Waterloo Bridge." In fact, right now there are eleven Monets on view at the DAM — an unprecedented number for Denver — with eight of them being paintings, and all but two of those are in this show. Through February 9 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, denverartmuseum.org; tickets are required. Reviewed November 28.
Sabin Aell et al. The standout among the offerings at Walker Fine Art right now is Sabin Aell: Mond:See, a solo installed in the gallery's main room. The show is dominated by the title piece, a site-specific mural in the entry space that climbs the north wall and bleeds onto part of the east one. Some elements have been painted directly onto the walls, but there are also resin-covered panels hanging here and there. The rest of the show is made up of rectangular versions of the resin parts of the mural, whose subject is Aell's memories of her childhood in Austria and visits to a lake called the Mondsee. Using ink, graphite and photo-based images carried out in digital pigment prints, Aell creates layer after layer, using the resin as a way to float them, one on top of the other. With the Aell pieces covering the walls, the Walker has installed a sculpture show, Jonathan Hils, on the floor. The sculptures are made of metal meshes that Hils manipulates into simple shapes, with some being nature-based and others geometric. Through January 4 at Walker Fine Art, 300 West 11th Avenue, #A, 303-355-8955, walkerfineart.com.
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