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Artbeat

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Bobbi Walker, director of Walker Fine Art (300 West 11th Avenue, 303-355-8955), has paired abstract sculptures by Colorado artist Jerry Wingren with abstract paintings by California artist Jung Choi in the handsome Silent Dialogue. Despite the fact that Wingren's sculptures have very little in common with Choi's paintings, the show works. Then again, the gallery is so darned big that there's plenty of space to separate the two artists' offerings.

As they enter the gallery, visitors find themselves in and among the Wingrens, which are arranged mostly in the center of the space; the Chois have been hung on the walls along the sides. Wingren, who lives and works in the mountains west of Boulder, is one of the region's most interesting sculptors and has exhibited in the area's top art venues for more than twenty years. Here he displays pieces from several series, most notably his "Pedestal Totems," in which organic shapes evocative of bones are mounted on top of tall poles. These pieces were inspired by Native American art, and that influence is easy to see. Many are made of Alaskan yellow cedar, but others, such as "Jobos" (above), are made of Swedish black granite.

Extremely simple, these Wingren sculptures are hypnotic when shown in big groups, as they are at Walker. The Choi paintings are brightly colored, neo-abstract expressionist-style compositions based on scribbles of cursive text. The scribbles look like script, but the lines don't form words. Instead, they become painterly automatist gestures with no narrative meaning.

Walker has tapped a few well-known locals for her stable -- Wingren is the best example -- but says that she'd rather introduce new artists, such as Choi, to the area. This policy has had mixed results at her gallery. While bringing in little-known artists from across the country has been laudable and, to some extent, even profitable, it's also made it harder for Walker Fine Art to establish its proper place in the Denver art scene.

Silent Dialogue is set to run through January 3.

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