Art Review


Two contemporary abstraction artists, McKay Otto and Ethan Jantzer, have been given separate solos at + Gallery (2350 Lawrence Street, 303-296-0927). The two shows, Otto's Every Place and Jantzer's Bound, are very compatible, with both artists doing new work based on time-tested traditions in abstract art: expressionism and minimalism.

Otto, whose works are ensconced in the front space, is one of a cavalcade of Houston artists being shown here recently. (Gallery director Gilbert Barrera is a Texas transplant who still maintains contact with his pals back home.) Otto's paintings are about luminosity, and they're covered with a gauzy scrim that he paints both over and under. His pieces have a lyrical, almost humorous, quality to them, which is unexpected. Not all of them are successful as compositions, but the ones with horizontal stripes work well and are the only ones that relate even tangentially to the style of his onetime mentor, Agnes Martin.

Jantzer, whose Bound is in the darker, more intimate back space, is an emerging Denver artist who does both painting and photography. For this exhibit, he's limited himself to photos. However, since they're abstract-expressionist compositions, they do have some of the characteristics of paintings.

Photograms are Jantzer's medium of choice at +, and he uses a technique in which actual objects are laid on light-sensitive paper that is exposed to light, thus transferring the object's image onto the paper. For Bound, Jantzer has laid pieces of string on the paper in twisted arrangements that look like scribbles, as in "Untitled (Bound Series #55)," above. Using the photograms as masters or preliminary models, Jantzer then creates cibachrome enlargements. This method allows him to bring in brightly colored backgrounds that do not exist in the photogram originals. The results, framed behind sheets of Plexiglas, look very elegant.

Sadly, there are only a few days left to catch these shows at +, since they close on Friday, April 1. On the bright side, I have a feeling there will be plenty of future opportunities to catch Jantzer's efforts, because he's definitely an up-and-comer in the realm of experimental photography.

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