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. Reviewed December 12.
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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.
Cross Currents. This ambitious show, put together by CVA creative director Cecily Cullen, showcases contemporary art by Native Americans from across the country. It is a followup to Currents, a show Cullen did at the old LoDo CVA in 2009 that was on the same theme and was equally intelligent in its conception. (Incidentally, Currents marked Cullen's curatorial debut.) In a way, this show picks up where that one left off, and it includes three artists — Nicholas Galanin, Marie Watt and Will Wilson — who were also in the earlier version. Cullen points out that in the earlier show, the three were cast as emerging artists, but in the current endeavor, they are the old guard, firmly established in their careers. Thanks to the series of small galleries that make up the CVA, all of the artists are essentially given small, clearly defined solos — but taken together, they successfully form the overall thematic group show. The other featured artists are Cannupahanska, Frank Buffalo Hyde, Merritt Johnson, Sarah Ortegon, Wendy Red Star and Sarah Sense. Through February 8 at the MSU Center for Visual Art, 965 Santa Fe Drive, 303-296-5207, msudenver.edu/cva.
Kelton Osborn and Julia Fernandez-Pol. In the front space and stretching into the small connecting corridor at the Carmen Wiedenhoeft Gallery is Kelton Osborn's fragments revealed: a continuous process, which is dominated by mixed-media works on paper but also includes watercolors on board and 3-D pieces, all of them abstracts. The show not only marks Osborn's debut at Wiedenhoeft, but also the first solo anywhere for the artist, who was trained as an architect and practiced for eighteen years before cutting back on design and deciding to focus on art instead. In Wiedenhoeft's enormous back space is Julia Fernandez-Pol's Some Day, One Day, Far Away. The display offers a marvelous assortment of the artist's juicy abstractions, which are based on landscapes and microscopic life. Fernandez-Pol typically starts with a color field, then tops it with paint applied directly from tubes or with syringes, in some cases creating stripes. The colors and tactile characteristics of her paints suggest brightly colored bubble gum or luscious cake icing. Through March 1 at Carmen Wiedenhoeft Gallery, 3542 Walnut Street, 303-351-1251, carmenw.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.