Conceptual artist and octogenarian Roland Bernier is the subject of a solo at Walker Fine Art that's alternately titled Last Picture Show and What's in a Name. The exhibit is made up of sculptures and wall-relief panels, with both types of work including the artist's last name as their chief motif.
For the sculptures, Bernier has covered high-heeled shoes and the wedges on which they're mounted with an all-over pattern made from cut-up prints of his name. The hues taken from the initial sources of the pre-printed words give each piece its own color scheme. The rectangular wall pieces are anchored by the artist's name, which has been written in cursive and executed in laser-cut plastic mirrors. The effect is something like the logo for a high-end brand — but in this case, the "brand" is the artist himself.
Bernier has had an illustrious career, dating back more than fifty years, during which he's produced a huge body of courageous work. Though he was the subject of a Denver Art Museum solo some years ago, it's now way past time for some institution to mount a proper survey of his oeuvre.
Bernier has said that this will be his last solo, so gallery director Bobbi Walker has installed an ad hoc retrospective of his work in a vacant shop a few doors north. Make sure you ask to see it in addition to the show.
In the other half of the gallery, Walker has brought together compatible work by two other artists. On the walls are abstract paintings by Ben Strawn, with abstract sculptures by Norman Epp arranged across the floor; both artists refer to abstract expressionism. Strawn employs lyrical, automatist compositions, most of which have been done with toned-up colors, and several of which reveal his interest in calligraphy. Epp's sculptures — some of which broadly suggest the standing figure — are in carved wood and follow the natural contours of the material.
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The two-part Bernier solo and the Strawn and Epp duet run through July 12 at Walker Fine Art, 300 West 11th, #A, 303-355-8955, walkerfineart.com.