Review: Three Shows Work Mysteriously Well Together at Robischon

Still from “Edge of Alchemy,” by Stacey Steers, collage.
Still from “Edge of Alchemy,” by Stacey Steers, collage.
Robischon Gallery

The Robischon Gallery has a talent for assembling separate shows that seamlessly interact with one another, and that’s definitely the case with a trio of exhibits on display now. They’re connected by both a goth mood and the enigmatic quality of the included works.

"Harbor," left, and "Cathedral," by Kiki Smith, cotton jacquard tapestry.
"Harbor," left, and "Cathedral," by Kiki Smith, cotton jacquard tapestry.
Robischon Gallery

The first show, Kiki Smith, brings on the star power, as this New York-based artist has won major acclaim. Best known for her sculptures and drawings, here she’s represented by something unexpected: a suite of jacquard tapestries produced on computerized looms by Magnolia Editions. To start, Smith created collages and, through a process of sample weavings and alterations, arrived at final versions; at that point, Magnolia turned the collages into the master files that guided the looms. The tapestries are filled with Smith’s favorite subjects, including wild animals, birds and the female form. They’re very much in the character of her drawings, but since they’ve been done in thread rather than ink, they have an incredible depth of surface, and the colors are spectacular.

Stacy Steers Phantom Canyon: Stack of Beds 35mm black and white video, modified antique and new beds and mixed media 150 x 62 x 46 in.
Stacy Steers Phantom Canyon: Stack of Beds 35mm black and white video, modified antique and new beds and mixed media 150 x 62 x 46 in.
Robischon Gallery

The next show, Stacey Steers: Trilogy, is the main attraction; it’s a retrospective of films by this internationally renowned Boulder artist. Steers creates fanatically labor-intensive films out of thousands of handmade collages that recall the style of late nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century book illustrations. These, combined with old photos, moody soundtracks and a shared theme of “women in peril,” make her animations reminiscent of epic silent films. Although the finished works are digitally projected, Steers employs an old-fashioned stop-action animation technique. The collages differ subtly from one another, so that when seen in sequence, movement is simulated. Trilogy begins with “Phantom Canyon,” Steers’s earliest film, from 2006. The space is anchored by a tower of small antique beds painted black, with the film projected onto a frilly white pillow in one of them. Beyond that is 2011’s “Night Hunter”; for this work, Steers had a large dollhouse and a small cottage built, and the film is only visible through the windows of the little buildings. Trilogy culminates with Steers’s latest effort, 2017’s “Edge of Alchemy,” which is both projected wide-screen and through a steampunk oculus device. The whole thing is captivating.

"100 Views of the Drowning World," by Kahn + Selesnick, pigment print.
"100 Views of the Drowning World," by Kahn + Selesnick, pigment print.
Robischon Gallery

The last of the three shows, Kahn + Selesnick, from the partnership of Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick, comprises photos depicting an imaginary world of oddly dressed and coiffed denizens, a type of subject that the pair has embraced since the ’80s.

All three shows close on May 6 at Robischon, 1740 Wazee Street. Learn more at 303-298-7788 or robischongallery.com.

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