Art Review

A thoughtful pairing puts a fine Patina on Walker Fine Art

Earlier this fall, Bobbi Walker celebrated her tenth anniversary as the owner of Walker Fine Art by throwing a big bash that attracted a who's-who crowd from the art world, in particular those from that local powerhouse the Denver Art Museum.

Walker has built up a good reputation for her gallery by presenting intelligent shows featuring the work of both top Colorado artists and notables from across the country. This is precisely the formula she used to put together the excellent Patina — her year-ender — dedicated to Denver painter Don Quade and Oklahoma sculptor Brandon Reese.

The Quade paintings reflect the artist's interest in abstract compositions that incorporate realistic details and even real things. His signature style begins with a color field done in a single predominant shade, but with lots of variations to it. Then, throughout the picture plane, he scatters, seemingly at random, small and clearly delineated elements in hues that contrast strongly with the overriding tone of the field behind them.

In the title painting (pictured), Quade has created a scuffed and chalky whitish ground that gives way to a yellowy orange at the top and seafoam green at the bottom. All over this ground are lines and scratches, while here and there are discrete forms — some recalling flowers, architectural floor plans and even the periodic chart of elements — that stand out because of the dark tones in which they've been done.

The Reese sculptures, in salt-glazed ceramics, work beautifully with the Quade paintings. A professor of ceramics at Oklahoma State University, Reese has worked with some of the biggest names in the field, including Jim Leedy, Jun Kaneko, Don Reitz and — last but hardly least — the late Peter Voulkos. Reese's sculptures fall into two categories — multi-part wheels and single-form stiles or totems — with both types of work showing off his technical mastery in ceramic engineering and glazing. I thought "Castle" and the closely related "Palace" were fabulous.

Patina, at Walker Fine Art (300 West 11th Avenue, #A, 303-355-8955, http://walkerfineart.com), runs through January 5.

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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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