Art Review


Though Spark Gallery (900 Santa Fe Drive, 720-889-2200) has been in its new digs since this past summer, the members have yet to figure out what to do with the new spot. I have an idea: Wheel some of those temporary walls into the generously sized storage area. Better yet, use them to turn that enormous, unused storage room into additional exhibition space.

Because of the wall glut, half the room seems like a bit of a maze, which makes John Matlack's solo, Red Shark Monotypes, seem as though it's ambling all over the place -- and that's really too bad, considering how closely related his prints are to one another.

Matlack, working with Bud Shark at Shark's, a nationally renowned fine-print studio in Lyons, combines reproductions of aerial photos of California and Thailand with abstract smears. He unifies the whole thing with a yellow background that was printed last, despite appearances to the contrary. The transfer of the photo imagery is only partial, so Matlack fills in the details with pencil and ink.

Barbara Shark, Bud's wife, is the star of the other Spark solo, The Conjuror, which fits the space a lot better than Matlack's show does; she lucked out and got three walls set at ninety degrees to one another. Shark is a hyperrealist who bases her oil paintings on photographs. In this group, she has escaped what she calls "the tyranny of color" by doing them mostly, though not entirely, in black and white. You might think she used black-and-white photos as her originals, but she didn't. In fact, she says that translating the bright tones into a range of grays was fairly difficult.

The title piece of the show, "The Conjuror," (above) refers to an artist who did magic tricks at a dinner she attended in Hawaii. This painting and four others in the show are based on photos of that dinner, and they cover a time span of only a few moments.

Matlack's Red Shark Monotypes and Shark's The Conjuror run through December 18.

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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