I've long felt that Judith Cohn was one of the top ceramic artists in the region. Her specialty has been sculptural installations made up of components based on classic ceramic forms, mostly vessels. That's why Thicket, at Spark Gallery (900 Santa Fe Drive, 720-889-2200, www.sparkgallery.com) was a surprise. It comprises artist-made tiles, some hanging on the walls and others on platforms on the floor.
"I wanted to break away from form and work with color," says Cohn. In her artist's statement, she expanded on the idea, writing that it is "at once structure and surface, body and skin, painting and sculpture, [all] with the same material." The flat slabs of red clay, all of which are untitled, have been decorated with glazes in abstract-expressionist compositions. The designs look to have been instinctually applied and are done in a range of soft tones, predominantly yellows, greens and blues.
Also on display at Spark is a selection of strange posed photos by Sally Stockhold that make up Ode to icons and other absurdities II. The suffix "II" indicates that this is the second time Stockhold has shown altered self-portraits. In these latest photos, as in the earlier ones, Stockhold, outfitted in various costumes and in sometimes elaborate makeup, has posed herself in the guise of various famous women.
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Rather than attempt to look like the actual historic figures she portrays, however, she refers to their iconographic qualities. In the portrait of Rosa Parks (pictured), for example, Stockhold, in blackface, sits on a bus in the whites-only section. As Leni Riefenstahl, she holds a camera with the Nazi flag flying behind her. For Louise Nevelson, she wears a headpiece inspired by the artist's signature assemblages. These photos are kind of funny — but they are also a little unnerving.
In the newish North Gallery at Spark, Susan Rubin and Sue Simon are each presenting miniature abstracts. Rubin's group is titled Collected, while Simon's are from her Studio Science series.
A "Coffee with the Artists" is set for 12 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 18; the shows close April 19.