Art Review

Artbeat

The contemporary craze for backlit translucent photos in wall-hung boxes seems to be moving full speed ahead, and it has been for at least a decade. This type of thing is so popular right now among artists that it has completely transcended its original role as a simple stylistic device for photographers and has become its own full-blown genre. The Andenken Gallery (2110 Market Street, 303-332-5582) is now filled with these fashionable light boxes, and with other things that are clearly outgrowths of them, for an exhibit called All Lights.

The best of the boxes are by Kelly Shroads, including "Aether" (seen above). They consist of lighted dye-coupler prints behind sheets of clear acrylic in heavy steel frames. "Aether" is monumental because of its size and simplicity and its frame. This substantiality and the spare sense for image composition are two key ways in which the Shroads pieces are distinguished from most of the rest of the field.

Also outstanding are Brian Rawls Dodd's clever takes on the genre. In his "Surveillance" series, grainy color transparencies of nighttime scenes are viewed through the glass panels of obsolete computer scanners. The scanners are hung on the wall, so their beige plastic cases become ad hoc frames. They're really smart.

Some of the artists here use light in other ways, most notably Craig Coleman. For "Live," he created an installation using projected light. With an old overhead projector, an aquarium partly filled with water and floating tubes, and a stretched-muslin screen, Coleman has "painted" a kinetic abstraction. "Live" is slightly unnerving and sort of looks, as the title warns us, like a view of microscopic life.

Also doing something different with light is Brent Shaw, who makes elegant little lanterns using recycled bottles and machine parts. They're a lot better than they sound. And there's tons more, including notable pieces by Josh Levy, Jonathan Stiles and Vincent Comparetto. The show runs through March 30.

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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