Art Review

Artbeat

For some reason, the little room off the entry at Pirate (3659 Navajo Street, 303-458-6058) always seems to be hosting an exhibit worth seeing. The space, dubbed ILK @ Pirate to distinguish it as a separate, alternative space, is currently showing higgled ripples, featuring the mostly three-dimensional work of young artist Joshua Samuel Bemelen.

The most impressive pieces are the carved stone stiles that have been arranged around the room, such as "ripples" (above), made of limestone that was treated with a synthetic sealer that alters the stone's natural sheen. This effect is seen throughout the show. The change in the stone's appearance is so great that I had to tap my finger against it to make sure it wasn't plastic -- or worse, cast Hydrocal. Stylistically, these abstract stone sculptures harken back to surrealism.

Some of Bemelen's sculptures combine the stone with iron. Less successful are the pieces from the "rusted tail feathers" series, in which iron rods are combined with wood carvings.

The rest of Pirate has some interesting things to see, too. The main gallery is taken over by Viviane Le Courtois-Mitchell's latest attempt to make us gag. In the past, she's grown molds, chewed food and worn out sandals -- all for our visual delectation. This time, she's composting, and the foul smell of the process is out of this world.

If you're not overcome by the stench and therefore don't need to leave Pirate immediately with health concerns, check out "The Tussy," in the Associates space, a show of abstract paintings by Jennifer Thompson. Some of them are very good. And that's the same appraisal I'd give of Christine O'Dea's ceramic rondels hung on the wall and the ceramic and metal installation on the floor in the Treasure Chest.

All four shows close this Sunday -- but then, thanks to Courtois-Mitchell, the place will need a good airing out before the next shows open the following Friday.

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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