This weekend is your last chance to see the Neil Goodman sculpture show inside the Museum of Outdoor Arts, though a companion exhibit will remain outside at Westlands Park into next summer. Keep reading for capsule reviews of the Goodman shows, as well as ten more exhibits along the Front Range, in the order that they're ending.
Neil Goodman. Both programming components of the Museum of Outdoor Arts, the inside galleries and the outdoor space, have been brought together for Close Proximately: A Retrospective of Sculpture by Neil Goodman. Inside there’s a full-blown survey of Neil Goodman’s work that’s basically, though not strictly, chronological. The pieces from the 1980s are made up of vertical structures made of cast and welded bronze with horizontal shelves, or levels, on which vaguely representational forms have been placed. The stunning “Cage” has a decidedly Giacometti-ish vibe. Beginning in the 1990s and into the 2000s, Goodman increasingly dispensed with the constraints of the frame-like structures and enjoyed a great deal of success with major commissions for wall sculptures. In these, the broadly representational elements that had formerly perched on shelves or bars were freed from them, and instead scattered across the wall on which they were directly mounted. The retrospective also includes freestanding sculptures from the past twenty years, including a clutch of monumental ones in Westlands Park in Greenwood Village. The outdoor sculptures will be up through August 2019; Close Proximately runs through November 17 at the MOA, 1000 Englewood Parkway, Englewood, 303-806-0444, moaonline.org. Read the full review of Close Proximately: A Retrospective of Sculpture by Neail Goodman.
Nina Tichava. Unusual and unexpected results from pigments (and from other materials) is a hallmark of the pieces in Same As It Ever Was: Nina Tichava, on the second floor at K Contemporary. Based in New Mexico, where she spent part of her childhood, Tichava says she wants to create work as “unplanned as possible,” though she does rely on a special process she developed to make mixed-media paintings that are typically done on top of linear collages. Following penciled grids on these collages, she lays in a pattern of dots that have been brush-painted on; as the pigment dried the individual dots took on the hydrostatic shape of water drops, which they resemble even though they are opaque and not clear like water. The show includes examples of three Tichava series: “Lanterns”, “Botanicals” and “Weavings," all meant to reflect her life experiences. In appearance, the three cross over one another, with “Lanterns” dominated by circles; “Botanicals” evocative of stands of trees, though not literally depicting them; and “Weavings” sporting dense linear arrangements of narrow shapes. The show also includes a large selection of miniature versions of the same idea. Through November 24 at K Contemporary, 1412 Wazee Street, 303-590-9800, kcontemporaryart.com. Read the full review of Same As It Ever Was.
Margaret Pettee Olsen. The impressive Margaret Pettee Olsen: Relay is at 808 Projects. Made up of the Colorado artist’s mostly large, all-over abstracts, the show was curated by art historian and art writer Stephanie Grilli. The pieces are richly layered: The bottom-most coat comprises vaporous blacks set against a light-colored ground with tones that range from off-white to amber. They almost look photographic until you notice there are no actual images; it just looks like there are. As it turns out, Pettee Olsen is referencing actual print-making: She pulled prints for contemporary masters. On top of this layer, automatist brushstrokes, some very wide and bold, obscure the underlying black and light field. Over that, she “edits” out part of the compositions with hard-edged shapes that define the surfaces, with the other layers falling back into imaginary space. One interesting aspect of these paintings is the way that she juxtaposes related colors to create what appear to be “flashes,” where the color shifts as you walk by the paintings. Through November 30 at 808 Projects, 808 Santa Fe Drive, 720-440-3099, 808projects.com. Read the full review of Relay.
Karen Roehl. Cobbled Landscapes: Karen Roehl is snuggly installed in and outside of an exhibition space in the back of the second floor of K Contemporary. Roehl does two distinctive kinds of work that straddle contemporary and traditional genres: abstracts that broadly refer to nature but are still essentially non-objective, and illusionistic impressions of horses that are semi-abstracted. K is featuring the abstracts; several of them include passages of earth tones, and some have scribbles that hint at plants and flowers. Roehl has written that she creates her paintings “intuitively” and that she's inspired by the abstract expressionists. Despite the fact that the space given over to Roehl is fairly small, her paintings are large, and she likes the idea of viewers being enveloped in mural-sized paintings. Her palettes include lots of luscious, if toned-down, hues and touches of strong ones against large areas of more subtle shades, including various grays. She also inserts detailing in graphite loops and shapes, and rows of paint drips that can look like fringe. A couple have been painted over, revealing lower levels glimpsed here and there. Through December 1 at K Contemporary, 1412 Wazee Street, 303-590-9800, kcontemporaryart.com. Read the full review of Cobbled Landscapes.
Etsuko Ichikawa and Peter Olson. The Water Within: Works by Etsuko Ichikawa has taken over the front spaces at Michael Warren Contemporary, and Peter Olson: Photo Ceramica fills the smallish back gallery to capacity. Ichikawa is best known for her glass works, and this show includes several types: cast glass pieces based on ancient Jomon ceramics; glass spheres from her “Orb” series, which look like paperweights; and “Vitrified Cubes,” with “hidden” strings and swirls of uranium glass glowing electric green when directly lit. Another Ichikawa signature is her pyrographs, for which she burns paper with the glass-blowing wand right out of the furnace and then adorns them with watercolors. Peter Olson's work also involves fires and firing, but in this case with clay, of course. Olson creates traditional vessels, then covers them with ornament. At first the forms — lidded pots and wall chargers — look like examples of traditional European pottery, but on closer inspection, the photographic decorative motifs come right off today’s streets. Through December 1 at Michael Warren Contemporary, 760 Santa Fe Drive, 303-635-6255, michaelwarrencontemporary.com. Read the full reviews of The Water Within and Photo Ceramica.
Linda Fleming. Though she only lives in Colorado part of the year, Linda Fleming maintains a studio here and is a key figure in this state’s contemporary-art history. In 1968, she and her husband, artist Dean Fleming, moved from New York to Colorado, where they were among the founders of the Libre artist community inspired by the famous Drop City commune. Confluence; Linda Fleming at the Ent Center, curated by Daisy McGowan, is not a retrospective of Fleming's long career, but instead is almost entirely made up of recent pieces. The exhibit includes a number of signature Fleming works, such as the pair of complex floor sculptures assembled from powder-coated sheets of metal that have patterns of piercing. In one, and in some wall pieces, Fleming has sandwiched two different-colored sheets together to represent single planes. Another one of Fleming’s classic types is conveyed by the group of mirror-finished panels, pierced with flowing shapes. The show also includes things few will have seen before, including her signature forms done in felt and rubber, and works on paper, in which her simple arrangements of shapes become graphic symbols. Through December 9 at the Ent Center for the Arts, 1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway, Colorado Springs,1-719-255-8227, events.uccs.edu/goca. Read the full review of Confluence: Linda Fleming.
Claes Oldenburg With Coosje van Bruggen. Before seeing Claes Oldenburg With Coosje van Bruggen: Drawings on the second level of the Hamilton Building at the Denver Art Museum, you need to look at “Big Sweep,” the gigantic broom and dustpan sculpture by Oldenburg and van Bruggen sited on the Martin Plaza in front of the museum. Oldenburg was one of the pop-art pioneers, creating enormous sculptures of mundane objects. The drawing show inside was put together by Julie Augur, the DAM’s adjunct curator of drawings. The oldest drawings reveal that Oldenburg got to pop via abstract expressionism; his scribbly, highly abstracted drafting is so elegant, it will take your breath away. By 1965, Oldenburg had made his name with works such as “Study for a Soft Toilet,” in which he rendered parts of a toilet as though they were stuffed like pillows, and “Nude With Electric Plug,” with his famous electric plugs arrayed around a nude woman. In the later van Bruggen collaborative pieces, notably several preliminary studies for “Big Sweep,” the style of the drawings is less expressive and more illustrative than in the older Oldenburg solo drawings. Through January 6 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-913-0131, denverartmuseum.org. Read the full review of Claes Oldenburg With Coosje van Bruggen: Drawings.
Virgil Ortiz. Virgil Ortiz grew up in the Cochiti Pueblo, which is renowned for its pottery, both vessels and figural pieces. But Ortiz does not make traditional Cochiti forms; instead, he takes the archetypes and morphs them into futuristic sci-fi artifacts, interpreted through the age-old Cochiti vocabulary. Revolution: Virgil Ortiz, at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, was curated by Joy Armstrong; the collection of American Indian and Latino art at the CSFAC is among its greatest treasures, so Ortiz wanted to tap those artifacts to put his work in context. The exhibit opens with a show-stopping moment in which a large horizontal plinth is covered with historic figures and vessels enveloping Ortiz’s distinctly contemporary pieces. Ortiz’s other mediums include the homoerotic yet abstract caryatids done with digital photos on vinyl; the most surprising elements are the art-glass vessels that sometimes incorporate his ceramics done during a residency at Corning. Through January 6 at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 30 West Dale Street, Colorado Springs,1-719-634-5581, csfineartscenter.org. Read the full review of Revolution: Virgil Ortiz.
Elizabeth Yanish Shwayder. The first solo at the new Kirkland Museum has the epic title of Welded & Fabricated Poetry: The Artistic Life of Elizabeth Yanish Shwayder. It was curated by museum founder Hugh Grant, along with deputy curator Christopher Herron. Shwayder, who is in her nineties, has been interested in art-making since she was a small child, and began painting seriously in the 1950s (though none of these early paintings are in the show). She tried her hand at a number of mediums before landing on sculpture in the early 1960s, taking both formal and informal lessons from several top local talents, including Wilbert Verhelst and Edgar Britton. Herron designed the show so that it’s essentially chronological, allowing the viewer to see Shwayder’s stylistic development, though her signature formal vocabulary was almost completely laid out from the start, and it was completely abstract. Her classic pieces, which date from the ’60s and ’70s, fall into two distinct categories: airy constructions of rods, and solid, sometimes triangulated shapes. With fifty works included, the show is the largest ever dedicated to Shwayder’s oeuvre, making it a must-see exhibit. Through January 6 at the Kirkland Museum, 1201 Bannock Street, 303-832-8576, kirklandmuseum.org. Read the review of Welded & Fabricated Poetry: The Artistic Life of Elizabeth Yanish Shwayder.
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Tara Donovan. One of MCA Denver's specialties is the all-encompassing exhibit, often taking over the entire museum, as is the case now with the fantastic Tara Donovan: Fieldwork. The show was organized by MCA curator Nora Burnett Abrams, who began the ambitious project over two years ago. The pieces mostly date back over the last twenty years, but things are not arranged chronologically; instead, they're displayed according to their aesthetic affinities. Using mundane materials, Donovan creates installations and wall pieces that conjoin conceptualism, abstraction and the landscape. This powerful combination is shown off in the exhibit’s first showstopper, the magisterial “Transplanted,” for which roofing tar paper has been roughly torn and piled on top of a low platform; the arrangement resembles a topographic map. The installation is surrounded by works on paper in which Donovan has inked up broken shards of glass and put them in a press so that the paper is embossed where it connected with the glass pieces; the results look like bolts of lightning. The revelation of the show is that Donovan can make the ordinary seem extraordinary. Through January 27 at MCA Denver, 1485 Delgany Street, 303-298-7554, mcadenver.org. Read the full review of Tara Donovan: Fieldwork.
Julie Buffalohead. Eyes On: Julie Buffalohead, curated by John Lukavic and Denene De Quintal, is on the fourth floor of the DAM's Hamilton Building. The exhibit comprises a body of updated magic-realist paintings that were specifically created for this show. In them, Julie Buffalohead, an enrolled member of the Ponca tribe of Oklahoma, explores her childhood memories through the animal symbolism of the tribe’s clans. And she also takes up topics in current events, in particular the environment. The paintings all have washy grounds; painted on top are anthropomorphized animals indicating individual clans, many of them wearing clothes. In the striking “A Little Medicine and Magic,” on the right side is a coyote impersonating a standing woman in a ’50s pink dress, and she’s pointing to a bunch of skunks standing on each other’s backs that are holding her purse. This scene refers to the Maka clan, represented by the skunks, who have outsmarted the trickster, in this case the coyote in drag. Whether the viewer knows the specific Ponca elements or not, Buffalohead's pieces work on a purely painterly level. Besides, the coyote in the dress is not so different from a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Through February 2 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-913-0131, denverartmuseum.org. Read the full review of Eyes On: Julie Buffalohead.