Art Review

The Shows Must Go On! Sculptures, Circuses and Speaking Out

The local art scene is full of great exhibits and events right now. Here are Michael Paglia's takes on a trio of ongoing shows in Denver and beyond.

Audacious. Last summer, Rebecca Hart took the rudder of the Denver Art Museum’s Modern and Contemporary department, and Audacious: Contemporary Artists Speak Out, in the main galleries on the third level of the DAM’s Hamilton Building, is her debut effort. Although Audacious is meant to showcase objects from the DAM’s permanent collection, this particular assortment has been heavily salted with pieces from the private holdings of Kent and Vicki Logan. The largesse of other important donors is included, too, but to a lesser extent. Among the standouts are several works by American artists such as Philip Guston, Robert Colescott, David Hammons, Barbara Kruger, Brian Alfred and Ben Jackel. There’s also a big European presence, especially among the YBA (Young British Artists), who are now, alas, not so young. First among these is Damien Hirst’s “Do you know what I like about you?,” from 1994. Chinese art likewise plays a large role in Audacious, and there are even some Colorado artists included, among them Tony Ortega, Jack Balas and Viviane Le Courtois. Audacious runs through February 26, 2017, at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000,

Stories in Sculpture. The Denver Botanic Gardens provides an ideal setting for outdoor exhibits, as has been shown repeatedly during the last decade. For its annual offering this summer, the DBG has borrowed sculptures — a baker’s dozen of them — from the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Here’s the backstory: The Walker, which is redoing its famous sculpture garden, was looking for a place to put its sculptures at the same time that the DBG was looking for an appropriate show, and Stories in Sculpture: Selections From the Walker Art Center Collection came together in a wave of kismet. It begins with a bang: Reuben Nakian’s “Goddess,” a very abstracted rendition of a woman with her legs spread. Other memorable moments include a large gateway form by Isamu Noguchi; a signature Marino Marini — a conventionalized horse and rider; and an unusual Louise Nevelson, a later work that marks a break from the screen-like pieces that made her famous. Major pieces by Deborah Butterfield, Barry Flanagan, Giacomo Manzù, Henry Moore, George Segal and several others are also included. The show runs through October 2 at the Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York Street, 720-865-3501,

Under the Big Top. As suggested by its title, this charming group show at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center samples art about circuses. The idea for the exhibit arose because of the availability of a suite of prints from Marc Chagall’s “Le Cirque” series, depicting different circus scenes in the artist’s magic-surrealist style. Those have been supplemented by works from artists associated with the CSFAC’s history, such as Edgar Britton, Adolf Dehn and others. Among the Britton pieces is a small bronze of acrobats in which the figures and their implied movement have been abstracted. The Dehn lithographs are regionalist depictions of circus tents set at the foot of the mountains. The show also includes a major work from the center’s permanent collection: Walt Kuhn’s gorgeous “Trio,” a conventionalized — and somber — full-length portrait of three lean male acrobats decked out in their tights. Kuhn has simplified the figures, but their faces are rendered realistically. The two at either end are dressed in red, and the one in the middle is in white. “Trio” dominates the entire gallery. The show runs through September 18 at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 30 West Dale Street, Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581,

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Michael Paglia is an art historian and writer whose columns have appeared in Westword since 1995; his essays on the visual arts have also been published in national periodicals including Art News, Architecture, Art Ltd., Modernism, Art & Auction and Sculpture Magazine. He taught art history at the University of Colorado Denver.
Contact: Michael Paglia

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