Art Review


In the same way that the works at the Center for Visual Art may be described as post-Chicano (see review), three of the four artists in discourse & decadence at Studio Aiello (3563 Walnut Street, 303-297-8166) are doing what could be called "post-queer." Addressing this particular topic is an act of considerable courage on the part of the gallery, because many in the Denver art world regard gays in the same way members of Focus on the Family do.

Installed in Aiello's front bay are Clare Cornell's grainy, dimly lit inject prints of Denver's gay sex clubs. The photos were taken with a hidden camera, depicting the empty interiors of the clubs. Only in a couple of images, where monitors playing gay porn are glimpsed, are viewers clued in to what they are actually looking at.

There are some ceramics by Cero Atl in the front bay, but the middle bay is where the best pieces are. Atl, who lives in Kansas, uses slip casting to create his "SexPots," non-functional pieces that look like dinnerware. Atl nicknamed them "semen funnels," and they are meant to subtly refer to AIDS.

Also in the middle are provocative works by Chris Walla of Minnesota. "Hanky Panky" is inspired by the so-called "hanky code," where a colored kerchief communicated what kind of gay sex its owner wanted. Walla has also done some evocative wall sculptures, such as the quotation marks surrounding an empty space in "Liar" (detail).

In the back bay, there's a major shift from gay issues to consumerism, an aesthetic interest of Denver artist Viviane Le Courtois. For "Contaminations," Le Courtois lined the floor with partly empty soft-drink bottles, cans and paper cups, connecting them with clear plastic tubing. The impressive installation is completed by a video projection with a split screen of people drinking soft drinks, and an electronic soundtrack also done by Le Courtois.

Because of some schedule shifting, discourse & decadence is closing a week sooner than originally planned, and it closes on Friday, April 15 -- so you'd better get over there immediately.

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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