Art Review


I'm going to throw caution to the wind and say that Continuum: Magnetic Sustensions, by Joseph Shaeffer, is one of the best shows by an emerging artist that we're likely to see during the 2002-2003 season -- which, by the way, has only just started. The Shaeffer show is being presented at LoDo's Andenken Annex (1449 Wynkoop Street, 303-758-2290.)

Shaeffer's highly imaginative, riveting (if not riveted) sculptures are remarkable for many reasons. For starters, they're held together by magnetic fields -- not your ordinary way to connect things. Even more amazing, the Boulder-based Shaeffer has been making art for only two years. (Before that, he was more interested in snowboarding.) And he's entirely self-taught as an artist, though he does have a background in mechanical engineering, which explains a lot.

In many ways, the most significant piece in the show is "Sustension 3000--Twin Towers Suspended by Our Memories of the Dead and Missing." Even if you're tired of September 11 references, this piece is worth seeing. It incorporates a rusted beam as its base; above it, tethered by thread and made of pierced metal, are 500th scale models of the actual towers. The metal rectangles literally float via a magnetic attraction drawn from a box above them; they are not connected to it in any other way. The clear acrylic box, which is suspended from the ceiling, is filled with 3,000 ball bearings. The effect of the floating towers -- an evocative idea, to say the least -- is out of this world.

The other pieces in the show are not as heavy in a narrative sense, but they're equally good -- and they have equally long titles, such as "Sculpture for the Institute of Applied Holographic Study" (above) and "Gabo's Spheric Theme--Offset--Vertical Sustensions." Both titles indicate Shaeffer's interest in science and math, but the latter, with its reference to constructivist Naum Gabo, also reveals his interest in art history.

The marvelous Shaeffer show will come to an end on October 26, and the Andenken Annex is open only on weekends. My advice is to get over there before it's too late, if only to check out "Sustension 3000," which really is unbelievable.

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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