Wallflowers & Pinups

Surely one of the city's funkiest, grungiest, edgiest and strangest art galleries is Capsule (554 Santa Fe Drive, 303-623-3460), the brainchild of artist Lauri Lynnxe Murphy. I don't see every show presented here, but I've seen enough to know that whatever's on view will at least be interesting, if not good -- though I do wish someone, anyone, would wash those filthy windows.

Right now, Capsule's main room is devoted to Wallflowers & Pinups, featuring the work of Wanda Ewing, an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska. Using cheap materials, pointedly crude techniques and irreverent pop-culture references, Ewing sets about exploring her own life experiences as an African-American growing up in the Midwest. The most ambitious work here is the installation of more than a hundred monotypes, all with a cartoon-like outline of Ewing's head -- but each with a different hairdo. Also striking are Ewing's linocuts on wallpaper. Using rectangles cut from traditional floral-patterned wallpaper, she prints erotic images of black women that have a '70s blaxploitation attitude to them, as seen in "Wallflowers #7" (above).

Looking at this show, I was hit by a feeling of déjà vu -- though it was only later that I realized why. Twenty years ago, John Haeseler, then a well-known Denver artist, was doing essentially the same thing, only with photos, and he wasn't exploring racial politics, but gender-identity issues.

In Capsule's smaller space is Reminiscence, a group show by the "Blackberry Sketch Collective." Members Lauren McCleary, Jamie Ross, Bill Mizell, Dana McGee, Jessica Duran and Lindy Peterson all met as art students at Metro State College. This show looks pretty good, considering the amateur status of the participants, and I think we'll be hearing from some of them in the future.

Wallflowers & Pinups and Reminiscence both close on June 3.


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