Art Review

Artbeat

In the center spaces of the Sandy Carson Gallery (760 Santa Fe Drive, 303-573-8585), director William Biety has installed Susan Stinsmuehlen-Amend: Mixed Media, a display of oddball, multi-part pieces made of offbeat materials. The show doesn't really go with the Jeff Wenzel feature installed across the front of the gallery (see Art), which is no doubt why Biety emphatically separated the two with the judicious placement of moveable walls.

Stinsmuehlen-Amend, who lives in the very arty town of Ojai, California, has been exhibiting since the 1970s. Although this is not her Mile High debut, it's the first time her work has been seen in depth here in a single-artist presentation.

The show begins with a four-part piece titled "Ode to Geraldine (Mom)," two panels of which are seen above. It's both goofy and serious -- quite a balancing act. On the far left is a panel with an attached found brass frame; inside is a cropped portrait of a woman's face, probably the 'Geraldine' of the piece's title. Then there's a panel covered in black sequined fabric with a brass door-knocker on it, followed by one with scores of rayon flowers attached. The final panel is covered in kiln-fired glass plaques decorated with enamel leaves.

The technique of enameling glass and then working and firing it in a kiln is an unusual method. In some ways, it's been Stinsmuehlen-Amend's claim to fame. Beyond "Ode" is a small room lined with examples of the technique. In several, the artist copied pages from her sketchbooks -- which contain scribbles, phone numbers and random marks -- on pieces of glass that were then fired, causing them to bend and curl. The results are placed on shelves and simply propped against the walls at Sandy Carson. These pieces have a luxurious quality that's at odds with the informality of their decorations, which is one reason I think they work so well.

The unusual Susan Stinsmuehlen-Amend: Mixed Media runs through April 7 at Sandy Carson Gallery.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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