Art Review

Artbeat

The idiosyncratic sculptures in Tom Nussbaum, which has been installed in the pair of spaces just inside the front door of the Robischon Gallery (1740 Wazee Street, 303-298-7788), are downright strange.Take, for example, "Head I Man" (left), an acrylic on resin of a bland-looking man holding up a giant, equally bland-looking head over his own. It's as though the Northwest Coast Indians were making Ken dolls, or, in the case of some of the other pieces, Barbies or perhaps GI Joes.

More than a few of the pieces pick up on this juxtaposition of Native American concepts carried out using the images of suburbanites. The most obvious of these is "Totem," but "Fish Man" and "Owl Man" also make the point.

Surprisingly, despite the Kwakiutl (or would that be Tlingit?) references in these sculptures, Nussbaum doesn't live in Seattle. The Philadelphia-born artist resides in New Jersey, of all places.

Also at Robischon is a painting show featuring Texas artist Robert Jessup's expressionistic evocations of dreams -- or at least a storybook depiction of dreams. The richly colored and heavily painted "Circus II" is a good example -- it's a real eye dazzler.

In addition, Robischon has mounted a display of ink on rice paper drawings of Buddhist monks, by Boulder's Michael Newhall. In one series, pairs of drawings have been made in which one has had the ink applied to it, and the other has been used to blot it.

Somehow, Jessup's paintings and Newhall's drawings are just weird enough to stand up to the Nussbaum pieces. All three shows are set to close on April 28.

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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