Spittin' Image at the Singer Gallery

Simon Zalkind, director of the Singer Gallery of the Mizel Arts & Culture Center (350 South Dahlia Street, 303-316-6360, www.maccjcc.org), is an intellectual as much as an aesthete, meaning he's as interested in ideas as he is in visual matters. So it makes sense that Spittin' Image: Ten Artists Consider Their Children, clearly expresses his taste for conceptual realism, a style that's reliant on the use of narrative content above all else.

In conceiving the show, Zalkind was inspired by the idea that artists' depictions of children (typically the offspring of aristocrats) date back to antiquity, and since he himself is the father of a young daughter, he decided to explore the tradition in its current forms. He invited a select group of regional contemporary artists to participate, including Bill Adams, John Bonath, Karen Bozik, Margaretta Gilboy, Carol Golemboski, Tsehai Johnson, Gabriel Liston, Wes Magyar, David Mesple and Julie Puma.

The artists are divided between painters — Bozik, Gilboy, Liston, Magyar and Puma — and photographers like Adams, Bonath and Golemboski, with Mesple doing work on paper and Johnson working in three dimensions. Each artist is essentially given a small solo, and each has authored a statement about their children's effect on their work. These statements have been turned into wall-hung text panels that help to define each artist's individual space. The show is an extremely good-looking presentation, with sensitive installations being one of Zalkind's signatures.


Spittin' Image

While most of the artists depicted their children directly, Johnson took a different approach, reproducing her daughter's drawings in decals that were then applied to found ceramic plates. Another of the pieces has turned out to be surprisingly controversial, Zalkind says, because it's been troubling to viewers. Magyar's painting, "Rise" (pictured), shows his infant son crying after he was circumcised. We can tell that the operation is recent because the baby's penis is bandaged and clamped.

The show closes this Sunday, January 17.


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