Art Review

Reviewed: Donald Fodness's Duets Closing, Seven More Art Shows to See Now

Denver museums and galleries are full of shows worth seeing, including two that will close at the David B. Smith Gallery this weekend. Here are capsule reviews of eight to catch right now, in the order that they close.

Oatey & Gebbia-Richards; Fodness. In this pairing at David B. Smith Gallery, there is an extremely rough mix of two distinct sensibilities: Chris Oatey creates small, delicately rendered patterns, while Dylan Gebbia-Richards makes large, boldly colored all-over abstractions. The two very different approaches do have a few things in common; most notably, both represent non-objective compositions. Oatey uses an unusual method: He draws on paper with a sheet of carbon paper underneath so that the carbon transfers marks onto the bottom paper. Gebbia-Richards also employs an unusual method: He uses colored waxes applied with an industrial blower, building up the wax in coats and forming tiny repeated spires that come up high off the surfaces. A separate show in the experimental space, titled Donald Fodness: Duets, displays a funky mash-up of abstraction, surrealism, pop and kitsch. Fodness’s interest in merging lowbrow and highbrow aesthetics works well here. Through February 18 at David B. Smith Gallery, 1543A Wazee Street, 303-893-4234, Read the review of these two shows at David B. Smith.
Nice Work If You Can Get It. Once a year, the work of RedLine members is featured in a major exhibition; the current iteration, Nice Work If You Can Get It, is on view now. The show was put together by guest curator Daisy McGowan, who began six months ago by asking members to create work that deals with the collision of wanting to make art while needing to make a living. The artists' responses ranged from the literal to the poetic; some barely addressed the subject, while others were extremely subtle about it. Among the standouts is the wall mural by Sandra Fettingis that’s being physically demolished during the course of the show. John McEnroe’s grid of wall shelves with objects on them is extremely elegant and thoughtful, and what looks like an urban altarpiece by Mario Zoots commands the back wall. Other pieces worth noting include Tracy Tomko’s tortured self-portrait, Stephanie Kantor’s mosaics on a garden theme, Ramón Bonilla’s geometric wall mural, an enigmatic piece by Molly Bounds, Sarah Rockett’s gilded but rickety ladder, and much, much more. Through February 25 at RedLine, 2350 Arapahoe Street, 303-296-4448, Read the review of Nice Work If You Can Get It.
You Already Know How This Will End. Michael J. Dowling is the subject of this striking solo at Leon Gallery. Dowling has built a solid reputation based on drawings and paintings — and now sculptures — with an Old Master-ish classicism about them that he intentionally undermines through additions and subtractions that he dubs “redactions.” He begins with traditional imagery — portraits, in particular, but also birds, animals and even a ship — then both erases and covers over parts of each image. This is conceptual, but it also creates striking compositions; mostly, though, it gives his work an edge that clearly separates it from the traditional-realist aesthetic to which his style is related. Dowling’s figures and representations often refer, at least indirectly, to art-historical precedents, especially those from Italian art. That said, his marks are so confidently applied and so unerring in their ability to convey pictorial content that his drafting skills appear to be something he comes by naturally, even with this Italianate influence. Through March 4 at Leon Gallery, 1112 East 17th Avenue, 303-832-1599, Read the review of You Already Know How This Will End.Daisy Patton and Margaret Lawless. Michael Warren Contemporary, one of the city’s top galleries, often presents two exhibits back to back, as is the case right now. The star attraction, Throw My Ashes Into the Sea: New Works by Daisy Patton, takes over the front space, while its companion solo, Creative Destruction: New Works by Margaret Lawless, is installed in the back. Daisy Patton creates neo-pop paintings based on found photos (she calls them “abandoned”). The photos have been entirely divorced from their history and context, so the people in them represent lost memories, giving Patton permission to give them new identities. The results are inkjet enlargements partly covered over with oils. Margaret Lawless also messes with photos and uses them as the basis of her pieces, but she does something completely different. Instead of looking for anonymous amateur photos like Patton does, Lawless aims higher, using the famous photos of New York taken by Berenice Abbott in the 1930s and translating them into layered paintings incorporating collage. Through March 4 at Michael Warren Contemporary, 760 Santa Fe Drive, 303-635-6255, Read the full review of Daisy Patton, Margaret Lawless shows.

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Michael Paglia is an art historian and writer whose columns have appeared in Westword since 1995; his essays on the visual arts have also been published in national periodicals including Art News, Architecture, Art Ltd., Modernism, Art & Auction and Sculpture Magazine. He taught art history at the University of Colorado Denver.
Contact: Michael Paglia