New year, new shows. While several good exhibits from the late fall will be closing soon, you have even less time to see Ted Laredo's show at Michael Warren Contemporary, which closes this weekend. Keep reading for a capsule review of that exhibit, as well as six more shows in the metro area, in the order that they're closing.
Ted Laredo. Superficially, Ted Laredo's paintings showcased in Ted Laredo: 93 million miles from the sun are minimalist, because they are extremely simple in their compositions. Many are monochromes, with a few done with stripes or other repeated shapes. But Laredo covers the surfaces in glass microbeads and micaceous iron oxide flakes mixed with acrylic paints, which causes the surfaces to glisten; it's too much of a visual punch for doctrinaire minimalism. The scabrous surface that results isn’t a less-is-more approach, either. Several of the Laredos represent flattened versions of three-dimensional shapes, including cubes and spheres. The most impressive is “1 cubic foot (pyramid configuration),” in which sixteen one-foot square panels, each three-quarters of an inch thick, could be stacked up to be the one cubic foot of the title. Playing with dimensions in another way is “1 inch by 72-foot painting,” in which Laredo has rolled a 72-foot strip of inch-wide canvas into a disk, then painted it with acrylic mixed with the glittery micaceous iron oxide flakes. Through January 19 at Michael Warren Contemporary, 760 Santa Fe Drive, 303-635-6255, michaelwarrencontemporary.com. Read the review of Ted Laredo: 93 million miles from the sun.
Cymon Padilla. Leon Gallery is hosting re: mix/Paintings by Cymon Padilla, a spectacular debut solo by a Colorado artist who's been relatively unknown in Denver, though he’s been showing in his home town of Colorado Springs for the past five years. The meticulously crafted paintings are pop-surrealist, with Padilla mashing up “Classical European figurative work with the golden age of Disney, Saturday morning cartoons, pop art and vintage advertising,” he writes. At first sight, Padilla’s pieces look like collages in which the artist has cut up magazines, art books and comics to create his compositions, but on closer examination, it’s clear that they are actually traditionally done oil paintings, which is pretty amazing when you consider the high level of control Padilla has over his brushes. He creates virtual collages on computer screens, cutting pieces out of famous or noteworthy images, then pastes them together in unexpected ways. The finished paintings are completely different from any of the initial sources, yet each of the appropriated elements still retains its recognizable identity. Preserving the distinctive aspects of these image fragments provides key pictorial information. Extended through January 26 at Leon Gallery, 1112 17th Avenue, 303-832-1599, leongallery.com. Read the full review of re: mix/Paintings by Cymon Padilla.
COLDPLAY. The new FooLPFoof Contemporary Art in RiNo has a clever business model developed by artist Laura Phelps Rogers, who owns it: a hybrid of an artist co-operative and a traditional commercial gallery. The idea is that contemporary artists vetted by Rogers are included in exchange for a fee paid for a specific wall or area. This might be workable financially, but amazingly enough, it's also resulted in a credible art show: COLDPLAY. Part of the secret of this success is that Rogers has used her wide connections in the city’s alternative scene and the world of metal casting to invite artists whose work she admires to get involved, so everything reflects her taste. Among the artists in this show are many familiar names, including Louis Recchia, Zoa Ace, Phil Bender and Charles Parson. The standout pieces include a trio of marvelous, cream-colored ceramic totems by Gayla Lemke; the sculpture of a green patinated disk by David Lobdell; and an incredibly realistic landscape drawing by Caroline Peters. There are also some great pieces by emerging artists, but none more impressive than those by Eric Anderson, whose abstract paintings are stunning. Through January 26 at FooLPRoof, 3240 Larimer Street, 303-641-3472, foolproofcontemporaryart.com. Read the full review of COLDPLAY.
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.
Laura Moretz. Artist Laura Moretz has long been interested in stained and poured paintings, and the pieces in her latest effort, In the Hands of Grace: Laura Moretz, not only feature puddled paint, but also areas where she’s gone in with brushes and even pastels and oil markers. She usually sets her images on a white field of gesso blended with titanium white; on top are poured areas and drips, but the shapes are organized using black lines. On the back wall of the gallery is an impressive set of eighteen easel-sized paintings in which Moretz works out the various spontaneous compositions she prefers. There are also a handful of larger paintings, but those are notably simpler than the smaller ones, which are visually crowded by comparison. Except, that is, for the large two-part mural Moretz painted on the outside of the swanky neo-modern building as part of this year’s Crush Walls, with big swatches of colors accented by black lines and dots. Action abstraction is rarely seen in street art, so it makes for a nice change of pace. Through January 31 at ATC/DEN, 3420 Larimer Street, 303-656-6768, amongthecolors.com. Read the full review of In the Hands of Grace: Laura Moretz.
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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.
Horizons. This group show highlights the work of six artists, all of whom tackle the topic of the natural environment. Horizons starts in the entry with ceramic wall-sculptures by Barbara Sorensen, three-dimensional wedges jutting out from the walls that are both architectonic and anthropomorphic, sort of like gargoyles. In the next section are oils by Laura Guese that have a Japanesque quality, covered with repeated shapes that are stacked behind one another, conveying depth without perspective. Around the corner are blurry depictions of the plains under expansive skies by Derrick Breidenthal; though technically abstract, they are close to the sensibility of traditional landscapes. Adjacent is a wall full of photo-based digital mountain scenes by George Kozmon, who typically captures Western scenes, often Colorado’s Rockies. Opposite and adjacent are much quieter and more intimate naturalistic abstracts by Melanie Grein. Finally, back up at the front is a small selection of luminous, resin-covered wooden panels by Patricia Finley. Finley's medium is her message: She uses resin infused with colors that are poured onto panels. Through March 2 at Walker Fine Art, 300 West 11th Avenue, #A, 303-355-8955, walkerfineart.com. Read the full review of Horizons.