Art Review

Artbeat

Since coming on as director of the Art Students League of Denver (200 Grant Street, 303-778-6990), Leona Lazar has been on a campaign to expand and diversify the art school's programs beyond its mainstay of painting classes. One of the new programs is ceramics. "Last summer, we became very serious about starting a clay program," says Lazar. "But the equipment costs big bucks, which we don't have." Well-known ceramic artists Barry Rose and Peter Durst came to the rescue by soliciting for donations of wheels, kilns and just about everything else. Durst also secured a grant to cover operating expenses for two years from his family's Durst Foundation.

To inaugurate the new department, ASLD is presenting its first invitational exhibition, Clay + Clay +, which is crowded with pieces by some of the most respected names in contemporary ceramics in the region. There are numerous standouts. Inside the front door is a spectacular, monumental vessel in a sumptuous turquoise glaze by the world-famous potter Nan McKinnell. Opposite is a marvelous two-part composition in celadon by Mary Cay, and a fanatically elaborate piece by Jim Lorio. Ahead is "Red Nike," by Martha Daniels, a winged, headless figure previously seen in her solo show at the William Havu Gallery. Upstairs, there's a very cool Judith Cohn stacked stile and an elegant Rodger Lang double-gourd vase. Doug Fey and Blair Meerfeld contributed choice pieces, along with a raft of others.

Organized by Rose and Durst, the show also includes some of their work. Rose's "A Little Boat on the Sea," a groovy abstract wall plaque, is seen above. Although the show is admittedly unfocused and incoherent, this is still one of the best ceramic group exhibitions to be presented in over a year.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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