Art Review

Artbeat

There's a great new gallery called weilworks (3611 Chestnut Place, 303-308-9345) that just opened this past spring. It's located across the street from Ironton, in the industrial neighborhood north of downtown. Unlike most of the businesses around here -- including Ironton -- weilworks is housed in its own custom-designed structure, which was commissioned by owner Tracy Weil and designed by Denver architect David Lynn Wise. The very cool building looks like a neo-modern barn and features a cluster of separate volumes in different finishes that culminate in a three-story observation tower.

The current solo at weilworks, Unstitched: A Voyeur's Idiom, features the work of Jimmy Sellars and is heavily laden with timely political content. Sellars creates photo-based pieces that depict G.I. Joe dolls in couples, as in "Unstitched Diaries" (pictured). "It's a new space, so I wanted to push the envelope and be a little confrontational," Weil says. "But the pieces are not only political, they're also beautiful; people can come in and see that for themselves."

Weil is right: Sellars's works are both confrontational and beautiful, which is a very difficult combination to pull off. Because they are GI Joes, the topic of gays in the military is suggested, as is same-sex marriage, since they're pictured in couples. Sellars says he wanted to address his own life in this work because when he was a child, he played with GI Joes and transferred his own thoughts and feelings onto the toy soldiers. He points out an interesting contradiction about them in his artist's statement: The dolls are macho and neutered at the same time.

The Sellers pieces are installed in the main space on the ground floor and in the stairway of the observation tower. On a landing at the second floor are four tiny installations by guest artist Kelan Smith, part of a mini-exhibit called Women of Hitchcock. Smith dressed vintage Barbie dolls in costumes from Hitchcock movies and then stood them in front of painted backdrops evocative of the particular film that's being referenced.

The weilworks gallery is only open on weekends, so there are just a couple of days left to catch these two interesting shows before they come down this Sunday, July 11.

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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