Art Review


Typically, the show in the main room at Pirate: a Contemporary Art Oasis (3659 Navajo Street, 303-458-6058) has nothing to do with the one in the associates' space. That's not the case this time, though. Pirate member Marie E.v.B. Gibbons is a friend of Pirate associate Jimmy Sellars, so the two have coordinated their exhibits. Not that there's anything about Gibbons' ceramics that's remotely like Sellars' photos -- it's that both artists used water as a metaphor.

For Float, Gibbons created a group of installations. Hanging on the walls are small, beautifully glazed bas-reliefs depicting fanciful sea creatures. On the floor is the title piece, "Float" (detail above), an evocation of a swimming pool filled with bathers -- fifty self-portrait heads. Gibbons chose the number fifty because that's her age, and each head indicates a different stage of her life. She's "submerged" the heads at various "depths," though it's all an illusion since the "water" is made of tile and nothing will actually sink into it.

In Dive, Sellars continues his exploration of gay politics through GI Joe action figures photographed in sexually evocative poses. Sellars uses a black background in these works that, when combined with the gray color of the figures, results in an extremely dignified presentation despite the inherent levity of beefcake shots of dolls.

Sadly, these may be among the last shows in what Phil Bender, the co-op's guiding light, calls "Big Pirate" -- as opposed to the "Little Pirate" that is coming on line. Landlords Chandler Romeo and Reed Weimer are reconfiguring the space so they can rent out the portion beyond the current front door as a separate unit (at a jacked-up rent). Too bad.

Float and Dive are on view through July 3 at what's still the Big Pirate. See it -- and them -- while you can.

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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