Art Review


The poetically named Raven's Nest studio (1425 West 13th Avenue, 303-623-1425), whose director has the even more poetic name of Glissen Rhode, is one of Denver's hidden treasures. The trouble is that this rehabbed, turn-of-the-century train depot with its cute little tower is rarely open to the public. However, on Sunday afternoons through April 13, an exhibition with the somewhat dyslexic title of Force Future will provide a rare chance to check out the place.

The show highlights a group of emerging artists, almost all of whom are unknown. The only established artist in the group is Bryan Andrews, whose brawny and potent sculptural group "Glimpses of the Journey" (above) is one of the first things we see as we enter Raven's Nest; it's clearly the best thing he's ever done. Each of the five phallic stiles carved from telephone poles that make up the piece is mounted on an individual articulated cylindrical concrete base. The blunt and muscular forms that result represent the stages of the artist's life. Andrews must be in a good place right now, because the form representing the present is the largest, most robust and most X-rated one. Each of the forms is marked by a carved, dimpled indentation painted blue; the largest one also has an inscribed blue line. For Andrews, blue symbolizes the soul.

Just beyond Andrews's piece is a ceiling-hung contraption by Jonathan Stiles made of wood and welded-metal rods. It's a planar evocation of movement that's reminiscent of both ships and aircraft and is quite good. Also nice are the tiny sculptures by Josh Shaffer that look like paintings.

"We were the organizers, curators, jurors and the installation crew," Stiles says of the three young artist pals who put the show together by inviting a baker's dozen of their twenty-something friends to fill it out. The hope is to promote their artists' group, dubbed ISM. But when you consider the stylistic diversity included in Force Future, you might think, as I did, that they should call it ISMs.

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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