Art Review


Carley Warren is the subject of the thoughtfully conceived and handsomely presented solo, Cribs, currently on display in the intimate indoor space at Artyard Sculpture Gallery (1251 South Pearl Street, 303-777-3219). Though the room is unbelievably small and modestly appointed, it almost always looks good -- as it does now.

In the 1970s, the Golden-based artist established her local reputation with large-scale installations that were typically made of wood. A good example is "Purloined Purlin," owned by the Denver Art Museum and displayed there in last summer's salute to the state's artists, scene Colorado/sin Colorado. But in recent years, Warren's become more interested in smaller-scale works, such as the pieces in Cribs.

The most common understanding of the word "cribs" would be as babies' beds, but the mostly vertically oriented Warren sculptures are more like barn stalls, which could also be called "cribs." Also unlike baby-type cribs, Warren's pieces have horizontal bars instead of vertical ones.

Most of the Cribs sculptures are triangular towers that reference architecture and even furniture. Maybe it's the vertical shape and the natural wood, but for some reason, I kept thinking about china cabinets and grandfather clocks. This relationship to the decorative arts is easy to see in "Crib #6" (right), which has bun feet and a cap made of sisal floor covering. Though Warren's sculptures are relentlessly non-objective, with no direct references to recognizable imagery, they nonetheless have a narrative component. The meaning of the Cribs sculptures is not obvious, but, like her earlier pieces, they suggest a sense of confinement.

In addition to using the indoor area for the Warren solo, the yard part of Artyard is also being put to use as an exhibition space. There's no particular show installed, but the nice selection of constructivist sculptures by Charles Parson that are on view could pass as one. In addition, there's a marvelous kinetic sculpture by Joseph Shaeffer among works by several other artists from the gallery's stable.

Carley Warren's Cribs is set to run through March 12; selections in the yard change all the time.

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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