Artbeat: Colorado Abstract showcases modern art created by earlier generations

By Michael Paglia

published: November 11, 2010

Randy Roberts, the owner of Z Art Department (1136 North Speer Boulevard, 303-298-8432), has done a good job over the last few years of picking up pieces of old modern art created by earlier generations of Colorado artists. In the past twenty years, there's been increasing scholarly and collector interest in this field, best exemplified by the rousing success of the Kirkland Museum, which specializes in collecting this kind of thing.

Unlike most gallery owners, Roberts finds his pieces on the secondary market and purchases or consigns them from collectors. And he's definitely good at it. In the past couple of years, he's presented solos featuring some of the biggest names from the annals of the state's mid- to late-twentieth-century art history, including Al Wynne, Roland Detre, Edward Marecak, Herbert Bayer and Dale Chisman.

All five are included in Colorado Abstract, a group show that brings together more than a dozen significant artists who worked here. Other notable historical inclusions in this impressive show are Gene Matthews, Elizabeth Yanish Shwayder and Martha Epp.

In addition to these abstractionists from the '50s and '60s, Roberts has included some artists who are still active on the scene — in particular, Clark Richert and David Yust. The Richert painting is sensational and represents a transitional period in which the flat patterns he had preferred were being replaced by dense three-dimensional ones. The two tondos by Yust (one pictured) still look fresh and new despite being decades old. There's also a first-class Virginia Maitland "veil" painting and a couple of very nice sculptures by Robert Mangold.

Strangely, a few of the pieces would be better described as "modernist" as opposed to "abstract." This is true of the naturalistic nude figure by Wolfgang Pogzeda, which, though not abstract, is nonetheless gorgeous.

Roberts has an unfailing eye for beauty. Colorado Abstract runs through November 20.