Articulated Perspectives. Summer is group-show time, and Bill Havu and Nick Ryan have put together a great exhibit that looks at artists who combine representational imagery with abstract sensibilities. The exhibit, installed on both the main level and the mezzanine, includes the work of three painters and one sculptor. As you walk in, you're confronted by a monumental Marc Berghaus sculpture in which a life-sized male nude is encased in an elaborate metal grid of boxes with mechanical fish inside — along with one live one. On the wall around it are remarkably fresh-looking paintings by Laura Truitt that have architectonic forms expressively conveyed through smears of thick pigment. Also on the main level are landscapes by Lori Buntin, which are rendered photographically but with unexpected hard-edged divisions marking shifts in the palette. Finally, upstairs, there are some sweet little landscapes in an abstract-expressionist style by Sara Sanderson that are very strong and extremely sophisticated. Truitt and Sanderson are both promising emerging artists. Through July 24 at the William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360, williamhavugallery.com.
Chris Richter. Back in March, gallery director Bobbi Walker realized that her planned June slot had come apart and that she needed to come up with somebody fast. At the time, she was checking out the scene in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and came across the work of painter Chris Richter. She instantly offered him a show. The result is Chris Richter: Revealed, which is made up of post-minimal field paintings that are extremely beautiful. Richter, who claims to be referring to nature in these oil-on-panel abstractions, begins by building up layers of different colored paints, and then, after they've dried, sanding the surfaces until he gets the vaporous pictorial elements he's aiming for. The paintings have a contemplative mood, though conceptually they mark a collision of the minimalist monochrome aesthetic and the expressionist forms that emerge after sanding. The Richter selections are joined by scorched wooden wall sculptures by Munson Hunt, small photo-based installations by Sabin Aell, and Zelda Zinn's photo-based images that look like drawings. Through July 19 at Walker Fine Art, 300 West 11th Ave., #A, 303-355-8955, walkerfineart.com. Reviewed June 26.
Gildersleeve, Balas, Bumiller, Judd. Commanding the large front spaces at Robischon Gallery is Allison Gildersleeve: Within Earshot, which includes a selection of paintings in which the artist employs the methods of abstract expressionism but uses them to convey representational subjects. In the small space beyond the Gildersleeves is Jack Balas: Yes/No (the Woods), made up of intimately scaled paintings that combine Western themes with enigmatic references. In the series of roomy spaces adjacent to the main area is Trine Bumiller: Stand, which focuses on recent work by the well-known painter. These paintings are markedly simpler than her earlier, multi-panel, multi-image efforts, with Bumiller using only a single panel for each, as well as a single image: a bare tree against the sky. In the back gallery is Tom Judd: Manifest Destiny, which is made up of paintings with collage that hark back to photos from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Each of these works depicts mountains rendered in an old-fashioned style, in stale, old-fashioned palettes that are made new through passages of color and collage elements. Through July 12 at Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee Street, 303-298-7788, robischongallery.com. Reviewed June 19.
Jeff Wenzel. One of Colorado's great abstract artists, Jeff Wenzel has a solid body of work that's been done over the past few decades. Currently, he's the subject of the drop-dead-gorgeous Jeff Wenzel: Duende at Goodwin Fine Art. Though Wenzel's roots are in ceramics — he was a protégé of Peter Voulkos — he has only rarely exhibited his clay works in Denver, and even more rarely has he exhibited them together with his much more familiar paintings. Seeing the two presented together kicks up the visual charge of the show, which, by the way, has been perfectly installed by gallery director Tina Goodwin. The works on view have all been created in the last few months with Wenzel's signature move in both clay and paint being automatism. He thus invariably employs abstract-expressionism as his taking-off point. However, there's more to it than that, since the work unexpectedly combines the sense of freedom that characterizes automatism with its opposite motive, obsessiveness, as Wenzel addresses the same areas over and over again until he gets precisely what he wants. Through July 19 at Goodwin Fine Art, 1255 Delaware Street, 303-573-1255, goodwinfineart.com. Reviewed June 12.
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.
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