Although member shows at co-ops are typically presented side by side and often in close quarters, whether they work together isn't something that is usually considered during the installation. As a result, it's rare to see a slate of simultaneously scheduled shows that function both individually and in concert. But the three exhibits on display at Spark Gallery (900 Santa Fe Drive, 720-889-2200, www.sparkgallery.com) do work together well because they are all made up of conceptual abstract work about nature.
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In the west gallery is Sue Simon: Water, in which the artist continues her exploration of abstraction informed by math and science. She does this by putting together forms, abstract fields and equations. In the largest of the pieces, "Western Water," Simon makes references to a map of the western United States, the shape of molecules of water, and the equations that reflect the physical forces that affect water. I really liked the freestanding screen, "Wave" (pictured), which is related and takes on different subjects — with different titles! — when seen from different directions.
The show in the east gallery was obviously meant to go with Simon's outing, as is clear in the title, Barbara Carpenter: H2O. I always think of Carpenter's specialty as being the found abstract executed in a color photo, so these digitized prints of water and water-related images came as a surprise. My favorites are the pieces that capture waves where the images have been pulverized — broken into small repeated shapes — and yet somehow retain their photographic quality.
The last of the group is Judith Cohn: Terracotta Sketches. Cohn works in ceramics, but her ideas relate to sculpture rather than pottery. Two that stand out are the wall installation made of tabs of twisted clay and the Flintstone-y totemic spire of stacked clunky slabs covered in graffiti-like decorations. This is Cohn's last show at Spark since she's moving to Hawaii to join her husband, John Temple, the former editor of the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News, who has been hired by an online outfit there.
The Spark shows run through February 20.