Art Review

Art Beat

Though Steven Alarid lives in Dillon, hes exhibited his idiosyncratic paintings, watercolors and drawings in Denver for more than a decade. Currently he is the subject of a solo show in the front gallery at Pirate. Its made up of pieces from his Empirical: series, which includes the untitled painting seen above.

These paintings were created over the past year and reveal the influence of abstract expressionism on his work, which makes sense, since Alarid was the recipient a couple of years ago of a prestigious award from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. The foundation was named for husband-and-wife abstract expressionists Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner. Alarids recent style seems to refer, at least broadly, to the early work of Pollock.

The Empirical: paintings represent a continuation of Alarids efforts of the last five years or so. They are extremely dense in their compositions, with the artist applying a wide array of smears, dots, smudges, lines and scribbles, one on top of another. This chaotic approach is used both to flesh out and to obscure Alarids ambiguous subject matter. His pictures are covered with disparate images, including line drawings of eyes, stars and checkerboards and, more often than not, hidden somewhere among all these things, theres the face of a woman.

The use of metallic paints and amber glazes lends a satisfyingly luxurious quality to these paintings, and as a result, they gleam like jewels. In fact, they could be called downright decorative -- and, as this exhibit reveals, thats no insult.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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