Apparition. The brand-new Gallery Severn, which is owned by art collector and retired executive Andy Dodd, aims to be what he has called a "launch pad" for emerging artists. This specialty in fresh faces instantly makes the place interesting. Also interesting is Dodd's decision to feature only one artist at a time so that the gallery can promote individuals, individually. Limiting inventory in this way seems like a risky business move, but who knows? It might just work. For the inaugural exhibition, Apparition: The Act of Appearing, Dodd chose to highlight abstract paintings by Dante Ortiz, a young artist who is little known in Denver. Born in Colorado, Ortiz was educated at the Rhode Island School of Design, earning degrees in landscape architecture and fine arts. This led directly to his founding of Studio Forma, a landscape design firm in Boulder. Last year he started painting again, creating the abstracts of overlapping color fields set off by enthusiastic scribbles that make up this show. These bright Ortiz paintings look pretty good in the tidy space. Through June 30 at Gallery Severn, 3210 Tejon Street, 303-532-9369.
Emmi Whitehorse et al. Joan Markowitz, senior curator and co-director of the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, has put together a trio of single-artist shows. First is Emmi Whitehorse, a solo dedicated to recent work by the nationally known New Mexico artist. Whitehorse was raised on a Navajo reservation and attended the University of New Mexico before becoming famous in New York during the 1980s. She does abstract paintings and prints that incorporate Navajo imagery and words. Whitehorse recently worked in Lyons, near Boulder, producing prints at Shark's Ink. The second show, Tracy Krumm, highlights this artist's woven-metal sculptures, which explore gender issues by juxtaposing industrial material with the domestic method. Krumm is a teacher of fiber art at the Kansas City Art Institute. The last show is Mica Chamber, a site-specific installation by Colorado artist Rebecca DiDomenico, who has used layers of thousands of mica rectangles and thousands of black-and-white photos to suggest the passage of her life. Through July 29 at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, 1750 13th Street, Boulder, 303-443-2122.
From Nordenskiold to Nusbaum. This impressive photo show, on view in the Western History/Genealogy gallery of the Denver Central Library, has the five-volume title of From Nordenskiold to Nusbaum: Archaeology, Photography and Tourism in the Early Years of Mesa Verde National Park. The show was jointly curated by Thomas Carr, archaeologist at the Colorado Historical Society, and Trina Purcell, curator of photography at the Denver Public Library. Carr and Purcell picked through the extensive collections of both the CHS and the DPL to select the pieces. The Nordenskiold part of the title refers to Gustaf Nordenskiold, a Swedish scientist and photographer who explored Mesa Verde in 1891; the Nusbaum part refers to Jesse Logan Nusbaum, who excavated the ruins and became the superintendent of Mesa Verde National Park in 1921. But there's more to it than photos by Nordenskiold and Nusbaum; pieces by William Henry Jackson, Thomas McKee, George Beam, Laura Gilpin and many others fill out the show. Through May 31 at the Western History/Genealogy gallery, Denver Central Library, 10 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-1821. Reviewed April 20.
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KAHN + SELESNICK and Gary Emrich. Collaborators Nicholas Kahn, who was born in New York, and Richard Selesnick, from London, create photo-based works purporting to be historic documents, though the scenes they depict are thoroughly preposterous. Their show begins with the pseudo-exotic "The City of Salt," followed by the pseudo-scientific "The Apollo Prophecies," the pseudo-archaeological "Scotlandfuturebog" and the pseudo-National Geographic "The Circular River". There are elaborate stories laid out by the scenarios depicted in each, but without referring to the explanations by the artists, viewers can only get a vague sense of what they might be. Every one of these series is engaging, elegant and well-done, but the images from "The Apollo Prophecies" are the most incredible because they're so convincing. The subject is the moon's surface as recorded in panoramic photos that are more than six feet in length. In a small space in back, Gary Emrich: Spectacle, pushes photography onto a different path, using it to make sculptures. Both through May 27 at the Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee Street, 303-298-7788. Reviewed May 4.
Photographs by EDWARD WESTON. You don't need to know much about photography to have heard of the greatest of the black-and-white knights from the West Coast, the late Edward Weston. His totemic position in history no doubt explains why Camera Obscura Gallery has had a steady flow of visitors since Photographs by EDWARD WESTON opened a few weeks ago. Weston took these shots from the 1920s through the 1950s, and his son, Cole, printed them up in the 1980s. That was the last time they will ever be produced, so the prints at Camera Obscura are the last of their kind. Among the selections are some of Weston's most famous photos, including "Shell I," "Double Shell" and "Pepper #30." In these classic examples of modernist realism, Weston isolates the subjects in such a way as to make them look like abstractions, though all he's done is record them straightforwardly in soft light. The details are crisp and clean, and there's a tremendous degree of clarity. Another concern for Weston was the female nude, and the same naturalism he applied to his other subjects was used with these. Through June 4 at Camera Obscura Gallery, 1309 Bannock Street, 303-623-4059. Reviewed May 18.
Place. For the past ten years, the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design has emerged as a local powerhouse, producing more than its fair share of emerging artists. Place: Fine Art Alumni Invitational highlights the work of some recent graduates. But good expectations not withstanding, there are problems with the show -- no theme, for example -- making it something of a disappointment. This is not to say that there aren't things worth seeing, because there are. Those little pigment puzzles by Karen McClanahan are pretty cool. The James Morgan taped paintings showed promise. The same goes for Robin McClure's charming line drawings done directly on the wall using strips of black adhesive vinyl instead of ink. Justin Simoni continues to riff off Andy Warhol in this group of impressive conceptual works. Morgan Barnes is always good, so it's no surprise to see his heavy-duty kinetic sculptures being among the true standouts. Ditto for Colin Livingston, with three of his marvelously deadpan neo-pop pieces included. Through June 10 at the Phillip J. Steele Gallery, Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, 1600 Pierce Street, 303-753-6046. Reviewed May 18.
see into liquid. This theme is centered on images of water. Occupying both the main floor and the mezzanine of the Museum of Contemporary Art, the secret to the exhibit's success is that it's a beautiful exhibit filled with beautiful things. There are marvelous drawings and prints, many elegant photos, and the three videos are fabulous -- and that's saying something. Director Cydney Payton came up with the idea for this show when she noticed that artists from all over the world were using water for inspiration. The most famous artist involved in the show is Robert Longo -- who is also the best represented -- but there are also other well-known names, including Catherine Opie and Richard Misrach. Rebecca Di Domenico is the only Colorado artist chosen, with most of the others hailing from either the east or west coast, or from different spots around the world. A show about water in landlocked Denver does have a geographic disconnect, but then again, who isn't familiar with the sea? Through May 28 at the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver, 1275 19th Street, 303-298-7554. Reviewed February 23.