Art Review


A couple of months ago, Cherry Creek North's Pismo Gallery (2770 East Second Avenue, 303-333-2879) moved from its familiar spot on Fillmore Street, where it had been for a decade, to a gigantic and handsomely finished showroom next to Hapa Sushi.

Relocation, always a risky prospect for a small business, makes a good deal of sense in this case. Not because the new digs have a prominent wall of display windows on the avenue, but because that Fillmore Street location was cursed!

Here are the bookend events that suggest the building may have gone up on sacred burial grounds or over a lodestone or something that would later spell trouble. In 1995, the year Pismo opened on Fillmore, a car inadvertently drove through the front window. This caused all the damage that could be expected when you're talking about a roomful of art glass -- a material that does not tend to bounce very well. Then, nearly ten years later, at the start of last year's holiday season, an arson fire in a nearby hair salon caused extensive smoke damage to Pismo. Considering the old saying, the third time's the charm, I'm glad owner Sandy Sardella found a new space bfore a plane crashed into the old one.

The grand-opening show of the Second Avenue location, which is just now coming to the end of its two-month run, is Dale Chihuly, an exhibit that looks for all the world like a missing section from the blockbuster currently at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (see page 37). In some ways, the Pismo show is even better, particularly because it's on view right in the middle of Denver, while Colorado Springs is an hour and a half away.

The Pismo show was put together virtually overnight, and that's not typical for a Chihuly presentation. With so many demands on the artist, a couple of years' advance notice is ordinarily required. But because Chihuly, who has long been represented by the gallery, knew about the smoke damage and doubtless recalled the car accident, he had his studio fast-track the show so that it could be presented when the new Pismo debuted.

The exhibit is gorgeous and includes examples of most of the series Chihuly has done over the years. There's a wall of "Persians" forming a breathtaking mural-sized bas-relief of blown discs. And there are many "Macchia" pieces, which are expressively blown oversized vessels in wild colors. There are two incredible "Chandeliers" composed of clusters of abstract forms that resemble fruits and vegetables. There are a couple of impressive "Putti Sealife" pieces that are out of this world. Not only that, but there are two "Ikebana" works based on Japanese flower arrangements that are more monumental -- and thus more impressive -- than similar ones being shown in Colorado Springs.

I really regret having put off seeing Dale Chihuly at Pismo until it was about to close, because it's so fabulous that I wish I'd gotten the word out about it sooner. If you haven't seen it yet, make the effort. Though the show closes next week, on June 30, the inside scoop is that the staff will begin packing up pieces beginning on the 28th. That means that, for all intents and purposes, this weekend is your last chance to catch this wonderful exhibit.

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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