Art Review

Artbeat

Joseph Riché is a young Denver sculptor who's been exhibiting his kinetic creations around town for the last several years. His innovative and imaginative work has, in turn, influenced a number of other young sculptors. So it makes a lot of sense to put together a group show that's devoted to Riché and his gang of fellow travelers. And who better to do it than Riché himself? He has created the impressive if oddball The Second Annual Kinetic and Robot Show at the Andenken Gallery (2110 Market Street, 303-292-3281).

Riché, who maintains his studio and his furniture-fabrication shop on the lower level at Andenken, is the star of the show, and in some sense this is simply an expanded solo dominated by his work and, more to the point, his ideas. His aesthetic is industrial, but in these recent pieces there's also a new and more fully expressed organic component. A good example is the rocking and revolting "I Think I'm Gonna Be Sick" (above), a piece that is meant to simulate the act of vomiting. (This process piece became an impromptu performance piece when I was in the gallery last week: Riché's dog walked up to it and retched. The canine's act was unbelievably appropriate, but it's still hard to avoid the conclusion that the pooch, far from being Riché's best friend, is actually his harshest critic.)

The only other sculptor given star billing in the show is Zack Smith, who's represented by a pair of his elegant and threatening mechanized-metal-and-wood sculptures that are reprised from his acclaimed solo last winter. Then there's Jonathan Stiles, who has one of the strangest things in the entire exhibit: an adult-sized pedal car that looks more like a homemade golf cart than a kinetic sculpture. But the biggest revelation of the show is surely the previously unknown Todd Oliver, clearly the emerging Denver sculptor du jour. His two pieces here, "Wabball" and "Untitled," are unbelievably beautiful and supremely elegant. My crystal ball says this kid is someone to look out for.

Riché and his pals rule the roost at Andenken through April 27.

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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