Auditioning Gods, et al. Arvada Center curator Jerry Gilmore has organized a quartet of shows devoted to recent work by Colorado artists. In the lower galleries, Bryan Andrews presents Auditioning Gods, which continues the "fetem" sculpture series he's been pursuing for years. These hand-carved wooden sculptures are an attempt to reconcile folk and modern traditions. Small temple-like structures are his latest take on primitive, devotional art. Andrews shares the space with his friend Joe Riché, who is presenting the good times are killing me, a collection of his signature kinetic sculptures made of found materials. Also on display is a short film about the Motoman Project, a very Mark Pauline-ish performance troupe that uses robotics and explosions. In the upper gallery is Testify, a grouping of large-scale chalk drawings by Riva Sweetrocket; in the nearby Theater Gallery is Jennifer Parisi's Memento Mori, a show of paintings done on found materials and incorporating found images. Memento Mori and Testify are on display through March 26; Auditioning Gods and the good times are killing me through March 31, at the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Boulevard, 720-898-7200.
Building Outside the Box. With the Denver Art Museum's outlandish Hamilton Building by Daniel Libeskind taking shape at West 13th Avenue and Acoma Plaza, there's a lot going on outside the place. Inside the gorgeous Gio Ponti tower, it's a different story. Up until the opening of the Hamilton next fall, there will be one show on the main floor titled Building Outside the Box: Creating the New Denver Art Museum, which has been given the cutesy nickname of B.O.B. If the Hamilton Building itself is exciting, its explication put forward in this show is decidedly not; it's the kind of thing you'd expect to find in an airport or a shopping mall, but surely not at an art museum. This dog looks as if it were organized by a committee and not by a curator with some expertise -- like Craig Miller, the head of the DAM's architecture, design and graphics department. He always does such a good job, so he obviously had nothing to do with it. The shame is that with the existence of this dumbed-down feature, it's unlikely that a proper show on the topic will be done in the future. Through Fall 2006 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000. Reviewed November 10.
Colorado: Then & Now II. In the late 1990s, internationally known photographer John Fielder came up with the idea of re-photographing old shots done by William Henry Jackson. This idea led to an exhibit at the Colorado History Museum in 1999, with this current show being the long anticipated sequel to that one. The CHM has a vast collection of Jackson's work, dating back to his first photos of the state done in 1873, when he was part of the federal Hayden Survey of the American West. In 1880, he opened a Denver studio, which he closed in 1896. As he did for that first Then & Now, Fielder went through the vast Jackson archives and selected the images he wanted to re-create and then revisited those locales. This time, however, he picked more views of buildings rather than depictions of the wilderness. During the show's run, the CHM gift shop will have Fielder's accompanying book, Colorado Then & Now II, for sale, as well as Volume I for those who missed it. Through April 5 at the Colorado History Museum, 1300 Broadway, 303-866-3678.
Early Colorado Contemporary Photography. Most of the photographers whose work appears in this show at Gallery Sink are fairly obscure, though one of them, Jim Milmoe, is well known. A photographer in the area for more than fifty years, Milmoe is also the primary force behind the exhibit. For the show, he includes his own work along with that of five of his contemporaries: Walter Chappell, Arnold Gassan, Syl Labrot, Nile Root and Winter Prather. This loosely affiliated group of kindred modernists worked in town in the '50s and '60s, and most of them participated in the workshops conducted in Denver by legendary photographer Minor White, who encouraged experimentation. All six explored vanguard ideas in fine-art photography. The reason the names are unfamiliar is because there is a lack of local institutional support for the topic; as a result, most of the pieces in the show are out of Milmoe's own collection. A few loans were used to beef things up, but the predictable idiosyncrasies of a personal trove are still clearly evident. Through February 12 at Gallery Sink, 2301 West 30th Avenue, 303-455-5601. Reviewed January 12.
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Ones, Twos and Threes. This solo, devoted to recent work by Eric Havelock-Bailie, is the latest in a chain of shows by Denver artists who had dropped out and are now making comebacks. Havelock-Bailie's latest efforts are based on Polaroid photos that are scanned into a computer and then turned into digitized enlargements using a high-quality printer. In this way, the four-by-four-inch images are turned into twenty-by-twenty-inch ones. But with all this high-tech hocus-pocus, can they still be called Polaroids? The title of the show refers to the fact that Havelock-Bailie presents the digitized Polaroids as single shots, diptychs and triptychs -- or ones, twos and threes. The distinction between the three types is hard to see, since he has hung the show as a continuous installation that snakes its way through the front and back bays. The resulting exhibition is elegant -- and the perfect vehicle to establish a presence for the emerging co-op at its new address in the former Studio Aiello, as well as to re-establish Havelock-Bailie's well-earned reputation. Through January 28 at the Sliding Door Gallery, 3563 Walnut Street, 720-979-4448. Reviewed January 12.
Revealing the Muse and Colorado Innovators. Hugh Grant, founder and director of the Kirkland Museum on Capitol Hill, curated both Revealing the Muse and Colorado Innovators at the Lakewood Heritage Center using pieces borrowed from his institution's permanent collection. The Kirkland Museum has an impressive assemblage that includes paintings by Kirkland himself, work by other Colorado artists and an extensive group of decorative arts. Colorado Innovators provides a survey of mid-twentieth-century artists working in Denver. Most of the objects included have either never been exhibited or haven't been seen in living memory. Revealing the Muse is a Vance Kirkland retrospective that begins with his work from the 1930s and ends with pieces done right before his death in 1981. I think it could be argued that surrealism was Kirkland's most important influence, and one of his most important innovations was the mixing of oil paint and water poured onto the surfaces of his pieces. Beginning in the 1950s, this mixture led to some of his greatest paintings ever. Through February 10 at the Radius Gallery, Lakewood Heritage Center, 801 South Yarrow Street, Lakewood, 303-987-7850. Reviewed September 8.
Tracy Felix, et al. Well-known Denver-area artist Tracy Felix is the subject of this self-titled show at William Havu Gallery, the artist's longtime representative. Felix has a special interest in the art history of Colorado and New Mexico, and in many ways, his idiosyncratic style is a reaction to his research. Classic Felix paintings feature meticulously painted mountain scenes that are marginally realistic and complete with seas of simplified trees, conventionalized peaks and cotton-candy clouds. In addition, he's been doing cubistic versions that are even more abstract. Both the classic paintings and the cubistic ones are neo-transcendental. This is Felix's first show in years, and the first in memory without his wife, Sushe Felix. Also on display are ceramic sculptures in the form of abstracted boats by Margaret Haydon -- who lives in Boulder but teaches at the University of Wyoming -- and hyper-realistic landscapes of local scenes in drawings by Denver artist Michael Burrows. Through February 11 at the William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360. Reviewed January 19.
Wyoming Expeditions. Gallery Roach is named for the late Otto Roach, a prominent commercial photographer in mid-twentieth century Denver. His lab, Roach Photography, earned a fine reputation for photo finishing. Dutch Walla, who became Roach's associate more than fifty years ago, now owns both the gallery and the lab. Wyoming Expeditions features Roach's photos of Wyoming from the 1940s through the 1960s. They're done in black and white, with Roach capturing many famous scenes, including such remarkable Yellowstone National Park subjects as the surrealistic Jupiter Terrace and the majestic falls at Yellowstone's Grand Canyon. Roach repeatedly visited nearby Wyoming to take photos, so he was able to supplement the well-known Yellowstone attractions with shots of unknown backcountry views. Surely the standout is a gigantic mural measuring seven feet by ten feet. And if the tremendous size of the photomural were not enough of an accomplishment, the entire thing has been hand-tinted! Through January 27 at Gallery Roach, 860 Broadway, 303-839-5202. Reviewed December 8.