When Lanny DeVuono moved to Denver a few years ago to take the helm of the fine-arts department at the University of Colorado Denver, she was not only already an experienced professor, but also an accomplished painter known for her conceptual realism and a widely published art writer. Last year, during her term as a resource artist at RedLine Gallery, DeVuono was chosen to receive a solo show.
Instead, feeling that she'd shown at RedLine enough already, DeVuono decided to curate a show there. The result is The Ironic Object, a handsome exhibit in the smaller community gallery that has been well thought out and intelligently installed. I'd have never known that this show represented DeVuono's first curatorial effort ever if she hadn't told me.
Her idea was to find examples of conceptual art that carried multiple meanings, with some of them directly contradicting others. A good example is "Bruises on the Inside," by Amber Cobb, which consists of a mattress covered with disgusting stains and a tumor-like growth at one end. The notion of rest characterized by a mattress is undercut by the disturbing suggestions made by the marks and lumps.
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A similar dichotomy is evoked by Rebecca Vaughan's "Whippersnapper" (pictured), a ladder with its steps covered in rows of lightbulbs. The ladder implies ascendance, and the bright lights attract, but they also make it impossible for anyone to climb it.
Some works are less directly interpretable as being ironic, like the enormous hybrid of a piñata and a donkey cart by Jaime Carrejo, which is something of a tour de force. The show also includes intriguing work by Debra Baxter, Gabriel Brown, Kota Ezawa, Donald Fodness, Terry Maker and Daniella Pavlic — not to mention Zach Reini, whose bent flagpole could be a symbol of what DeVuono was getting at.
In other news at RedLine, director P.J. D'Amico has announced that he's stepping down at the end of the year to take a similar post with the Buck Foundation. Current assistant director Louise Martorano will take over as the gallery's director at that time.
The Ironic Object closes on October 27 at RedLine, 2350 Arapahoe Street, 303-296-4448, redlineart.org.