The weather will be beautiful this weekend, but things are looking pretty good indoors, too, where the fall art season is gearing up. This is your last chance to catch New Territory at the Denver Art Museum, as well as Outliers at Leon Gallery. Keep reading for capsule reviews of those shows, as well as three more around town, in the order that they're closing.
Outliers. To celebrate the seventh anniversary of Leon Gallery, founder Eric Dallimore curated Outliers, an everything-including-the-kitchen-sink-and-dishwasher group exhibit; Eric Nord supplied the informational content that underpins the effort. The show is more of an index to artists who have shown at Leon than it is a traditional group display because of how many works have been shoehorned into the 1,000-square-foot space: 85, by 25 artists. That's about the size of a big museum show, but unlike in a museum show, the artists included in Outliers do not necessarily create work that aligns with that of other participants. There are so many things going on, Outliers only broadly lays out the taste that's led to the gallery’s picks over the years. There are tight and accomplished hyperrealist drawings, such as “Time Out,” by Travis Hetman; on the opposite end is the street-elegant geometry of Jolt’s striking diptych of wildly colored zigzags and spirals. In between are zany figural abstractions by Matthew Harris, post-realist birds by Michael Dowling, layered imagery by Barth Quenzer and Matt Scobey’s totemic concrete spires. Through September 15 at Leon Gallery,1112 East 17th Avenue, 303-832-1599, leongallery.squarespace.com. Read the full review of Outliers.
New Territory. The title of New Territory: Landscape Photography Today is somewhat misleading, since not everything included takes the form of photos. New Territory also includes photo-based work, in which photography is merely a component, and pieces that may be only vaguely associated with photography. But the first part of the title is correct, because all the works are contemporary evocations of the natural environment, which break into three basic types. Some are musings on neo-pictorialism, in which the photos take a page from painting in different ways but typically soften the forms. Then there’s a neo-new topographic interlude. And throughout, conceptual photos resemble abstractions. The show was curated by Eric Paddock, who's interested in highlighting unusual techniques here. The reason? Since everyone has a cell phone, pretty much everyone is now a photographer, so Paddock only included pieces that were clearly separate from that craze. Through September 16 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-913-0131, denverartmuseum.org. Read the review of New Territory: Landscape Photography Today.
Hard Lines: An Exploration of Geometry. This group show at Space grows out of a set of five small solos, all for artists creating non-objective compositions. It begins with paintings by Ramón Bonilla, who employs various hard-edged forms with many diagonals suggesting three-dimensionality. Frank T. Martinez explores similar concepts in three ways: with geometric shapes in strong colors; with small graphite on gesso drawings depicting origami-like folded shapes; and finally, with a set of monumental wall hangings based on the smaller pieces. Opposite these are conceptual hybrids of paintings and wall sculptures by Howard Hersh, who has built armatures from wood that hold his field paintings. Taking over most of the rest of the walls in the main room are paintings by Anthony Falcetta, whose approach to geometric abstraction is loose and expressionistic, hard-edged at some times and not at others. The last artist is sculptor Jodie Roth Cooper, whose work is displayed throughout the gallery and in the sculpture garden outside; he includes his signature skeletal steel sculptures as well as some new monolithic pieces made from sheets of rusting steel. Through September 22 at Space Gallery, 400 Santa Fe Drive, 303-993-3321, spacegallery.org. Read the full review of Hard Lines.
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Mike Whiting. This summer’s sculpture show at the Denver Botanic Gardens is Pixelated: Sculpture by Mike Whiting. The DBG’s Jen Tobias chose more than a dozen of the artist’s signature boxy sculptures, representing various recognizable things including objects, animals, birds and people; the hard edges of his forms beautifully contrast with the soft edges of the plantings at the gardens. Whiting is interested in both conventionalizing and reducing his subjects by employing obsolete 8-bit digital technology used for early video games like Pac-Man. To start, Whiting takes the pixels on the screen, employing them as building blocks to “construct” the outlines of the forms; the digital sketches are then translated into sculptures made from thick plates of steel formed into boxes. The outlines of these boxes are their chief defining feature. Whiting conceives of the flat sides of the sculptures as canvases, which he covers in atmospheric abstract paintings in Easter egg colors. According to Whiting, these dull and mottled surfaces are meant to evoke the sun-faded and scratched paint jobs of old pickup trucks. Through September 23 at the Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York Street, 720-865-3500, botanicgardens.org. Read the full review of Pixelated.
Suchitra Mattai. Metro’s Center for Visual Art's Sugar Bound :: Suchitra Mattai is a sprawling solo filled with the distinctive installations, paintings and fiber works of the Denver artist, along with a few videos. Mattai is interested in exploring her individual heritage and using it to raise broader issues. Her ancestors were from India and went as indentured servants to Guyana to work on a sugar plantation: hence, Sugar Bound. Racist attitudes are explored in “Purity test,” in which a “shower” of yarn falls into an actual bathtub. The piece evokes the issues of purity as it relates to colonized peoples who were seen as unclean by their colonizers. Exploitation of the colonized is examined in “Bound,” which looks like a machine, and “Salvation islands,” a triptych of a prison painted on fabric with a tropical leaf pattern. The climax of the show is the flying furniture in “Sugar water,” expressing the disruptions in the lives of immigrants. Through October 20 at MSUD Center for Visual Art, 965 Santa Fe Drive, 303-294-5207, msudenver.edu/cva. Read the full review of Sugar Bound.