Art Review


Earlier this fall, the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver (1275 19th Street, 303-298-7554) launched a program called "NEW PIC" that highlights the work of worthwhile emerging artists in the area. Selected artists, who must live in Colorado and be under the age of thirty, are given a six-month residency at the MCA, during which time they are assigned a small amount of space to display their pieces. The first "NEW PIC" exhibition is Paola Ochoa: True Love.

True Love is installed in a clearly defined space on the first floor, a room that is small enough to be a closet but is meant to suggest a bathroom, as there is a medicine chest on the wall. Viewers are supposed to enter the space, close the door, then open the medicine chest. Inside, a rear-projection video plays and is reflected in a mirror on the back of the door. The video loop records in stop-action the growth of clumps of narcissus, from bulbs to dead foliage. At the end, the withered stalks take the form of the word "love."

Ochoa was born in Colombia but now lives in Colorado and is a recent graduate of the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. In her work, she often combines video with installation, as she did in the case of True Love. The video of the narcissus flowers is grainy and seems almost painterly. And although the concept is hardly groundbreaking -- who hasn't seen stop-action views of plant growth? -- the piece as a whole is fairly engaging, even beautiful in its own way.

Although True Love is not technically a part of PILLish, the show with an international cast of players that's the main attraction at MCA, the Ochoa installation fits seamlessly into the big exhibit. PILLish is about drugs, and Ochoa's medicine-chest metaphor links very well to that topic.

True Love closes January 2, but Ochoa will be back with another installation in the spring.

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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