1959. Dean Sobel, director of the Clyfford Still Museum, is the host curator for Modern Masters at the Denver Art Museum, and he's done a companion exhibit at his own stamping grounds called 1959: The Albright-Knox Art Gallery Exhibition Recreated. (Special tickets allow visitors to see both.) The backstory for the CSM exhibit is that the Still show at the Albright-Knox in 1959 marked the first exhibit of the artist's work after he famously withdrew from the art world in 1951. Sobel is relentlessly trying to keep things interesting at the CSM, and this show definitely does that. Still had nothing but contempt for most museums, but he had a soft spot for the Albright-Knox. Still curated that show himself, and it's interesting to note that he included not only his then-recent work but also pieces that were twenty years old at the time, thus providing viewers with the chance to understand how he viewed his own trajectory from abstract surrealism to abstract expressionism. The show also has lots of documentary material, including photos of the original show and a recording of Still reading the catalogue essay he wrote. Through June 15 at the Clyfford Still Museum, 1250 Bannock Street, 720-354-4880, clyffordstillmuseum.org. Reviewed May 8
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Introductions. There's a whole new crop of galleries coming online around town, and one of the latest to open is Michael Warren Contemporary, which is filling a storied space in the Denver art world. A couple of years ago, it was the location of the van Straaten Gallery and, before that, the Sandy Carson Gallery. Though Michael Warren sounds like one person, the name actually refers to two: artist Michael McClung and his partner, Warren Campbell. The two are widely traveled and have long been habitués of galleries from coast to coast (as well as here in the Mile High City), where they've encountered and signed up many artists. Work by those artists makes up the gallery's debut show, Introductions. There are some prominent locals thrown into the mix, including Yoshitomo Saito, Heidi Jung, Quintin Gonzalez, Margaret Neumann and Collin Parson. McClung and Campbell have broad tastes, as proved by the wild diversity of the selections on view. Through June 14 at Michael Warren Contemporary, 760 Santa Fe Drive, 303-667-2447, michaelwarrencontemporary.com.
Jennifer Davey and Bob Maes. Another of the new crop of art venues springing up around town, Point Gallery occupies the address recently vacated by Space Gallery. Point is the brainchild of former Space assistant Frank Martinez (not the same Frank Martinez who exhibits at Plus) and his partner, Michael Vacchiano. The gallery opened a couple of months ago, so the solos Jennifer Davey and Bob Maes aren't the first exhibits at Point, but they're close. Davey creates abstract paintings by using color fields in some and repeated shapes in others; in a few, she uses both approaches at once. In the back of the gallery are abstract paintings by Maes. Of particular interest are those in which he has appended metal washers to the surfaces and used them to create patterns that he reinforces with circles of paint. In the cavernous south space, and on the mezzanine, there's an informal display of works by Pat Orban and David Menard, among others, including Martinez and Vacchiano. Through June 17 at Point Gallery, 765 Santa Fe Drive, 303-596-2309/720-254-0467, pointgallerydenver.com.
Matt O'Neill. Denver artist Matt O'Neill is the subject of the most significant exhibit of his career, Matt O'Neill: Thrift Store Sublime, at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. As the title suggests, O'Neill likes to reconcile lowbrow aesthetics with highbrow ideas. Over the years, he has embraced a number of styles, and this show features several stylistic phases arranged in a loose sequence. The artist's best-known series is made up of takes on old yearbook photos that have been pushed through a surrealist sieve. In these paintings, the sitters have had their facial features moved around à la Picasso. Next are representational paintings, which reveal that the artist is tremendously adept at traditional picture-making — even if he does have his tongue in his cheek, as in the giant portrait of a tiny Chihuahua. The most recent paintings are pure abstractions — some of which riff on geometric abstraction, others on abstract expressionism. Finally, there's a wall covered with O'Neill's faux wood-shop doodles done in inks that ape the look of ballpoint drawings. Through July 13 at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 30 West Dale Street, Colorado Springs, 719-634-5583, csfineartscenter.org. Reviewed May 22.
Space Gallery Grand Opening. Michael Burnett, the director of Space Gallery, and his wife, Melissa Snow, have completed a new building designed by Owen Beard of Solid Design. The new Space Gallery, commanding the corner of West Fourth Avenue and Santa Fe Drive, is a swank neo-modernist structure and an instant landmark. The inaugural show is called Space Gallery Grand Opening; for it, Burnett chose to include every artist associated with the gallery. Though there are a handful of artists working with the figure, including William Stoehr and Jason Lee Gimbal, most of the Space artists work in pure abstraction. Standouts here include Patricia Aaron, Sarah Fox, Corey Postiglione, Marks Aardsma, Carlene Francis, Ian McLaughlin, Jeff Curry, Scott Holderman, Lewis McInnis, Haze Diedrich, Robin Ault and Tonia Bonnell. Although Space has a lot of square footage inside and a scupture garden outside, there are only a few sculptors on its roster, including Stephen Shachtman, Michael Rand and Tyler Aiello. The gallery will need to add more sculptors in order to fill all that extra room. Through July 12 at Space Gallery, 400 Santa Fe Drive, 720-904-1088, spacegallery.org.