Art Review


The Sandra Phillips Gallery (744 Santa Fe Drive, 303-573-5969) has kept a pretty low profile since it opened last summer. Though I'd heard of it, I didn't have any idea where it was. In retrospect, this is strange because it's right across the street from Space and just a few doors down from Sandy Carson. The reason I hadn't spotted Phillips is because the entrance is tucked behind a tree and the signage is inadequate.

Once I did notice the place, however, I was glad I did. Director Sandra Phillips has turned a former rundown beauty shop into a charming, intimate show space. This is not her first foray into the art business, since she used to have a similar operation in Basalt, near Aspen.

Phillips is a champion of abstraction, with the current show, Common Ground, being a good example of her taste. It combines neo-abstract-expressionist paintings by Jennifer Scott McLaughlin with neo-constructivist sculptures by William Mueller. Phillips discovered both McLaughlin and Mueller at last spring's biennial presented by the Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art.

McLaughlin studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and now lives in Fort Collins. Though she has written that blackboards were her inspiration, her paintings will remind many of the classic work of Cy Twombly. Several of them are done on wood, and McLaughlin lets the grain show through as part of the compositions.

Mueller is a graduate of the University of Oregon, where he was inspired by the work of Czech sculptor Jan Zach. His work at Phillips, which is from his "wall series," includes three large, freestanding wood sculptures, each bent at a ninety-degree angle, like walls meeting in a corner. Mueller has lived in Colorado for a few years, and his powdery palette and terra-cotta clay finishes, as seen in "Kachina" (right), are tangible responses to the sights of our region.

The McLaughlin and Mueller duet Common Ground at the Sandra Phillips Gallery closes on August 31

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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