Art

Back to the Present

Page 2 of 3

Daly's work has nothing at all in common with Kriegsman's; in fact, it's postmodern rather than modern. The transition from one artist to another is pretty rough, but viewers should be able to manage, once they shift into the appropriate aesthetic gear.

The Dalys are pretty strange, with an edgy tension created by the juxtaposition of the casually done drawings on insubstantial paper to their polar opposite, carefully made sculptural elements in heavy-duty cast aluminum and steel.

One unifying feature is the conventionalized profile of a man. These line drawings variously recall the 1920s style of either Matisse or Picasso, quite an accomplishment in itself.

A Picassoid version is used for "The Engineer": The flat profile drawing is paired with an enameled-steel panel on which a cast-aluminum bas-relief of a tower has been mounted. It's very elegant and exquisitely made, with crisp joints and a high standard of finish to both the cast-aluminum element and the dye used to color it.

More clearly related to Matisse is the otherwise similar drawing of a man in "Afterthought." In it, Daly punctuates the colored-ink drawing with a scattered arrangement of colored metal knobs. "Man in the Middle" goes even further: Mounted to the surface of a dense drawing that incorporates written script is a variety of sculptural shapes -- not the least of which is the cage-mask that covers the profile.

Some will associate Daly's approach with that of Montana artist John Buck, especially the shared use of a simplified human form as a centerpiece. This link between the two artists is more than superficial or even stylistic, however; according to director Havu, the two have had a long and productive friendship, and they've been cross-pollinating ideas for years.

Installed beneath the mezzanine is the work of the final Icons artist, Mary Walker. Walker, who now lives in Baltimore, spent most of her thirty-year career in Minneapolis; like Daly, she is best known for her sculpture but is represented here by wall pieces.

All of the Walkers are done in acrylic on wood. Many are two-part pieces, and some are connected with hinges, but it's unclear whether the hinges are meant to change the planes of the paintings.

Walker lays down expressionist fields and places painted images of microscopic life on top. In "Roundelay," the most impressive of the Walkers in the show, odd, plant-like forms ornament a wonderfully blended taupe field that curves around a dirty white passage on the bottom left, balanced by a cut-away section on the bottom right.

This cutout, as well as other non-rectangular elements -- for example, sides that are not truly perpendicular to one another -- lends "Roundelay" and the other Walkers a false three-dimensionality. It's as though the pieces refer to sculpture without being actually sculptural.

While Icons isn't much of a group show, each of its artists is great individually. And that's particularly true of Kriegsman; I can't say enough about her work.

Upstairs on the mezzanine is Canvas, Paper, Board, a mini-exhibit showcasing the work of Julia Rymer and James Thomson, a pair of young artists on Havu's staff. Rymer serves as the gallery's assistant, while Thomson is its framer. Though the two work shoulder-to-shoulder in their day jobs, they take two completely different paths when moonlighting as painters.

Thomson works in a magical-realist style, lyrically depicting trees and plants in the landscape. In his "Salt Creek," two bare-twig saplings are nestled between the walls of a canyon, with the creek running between them. None of the painting's elements have been rendered naturalistically; they look more like cartoons. In fact, there's a children's-story quality to Thomson's paintings: The fat tree with gnarled roots in "The Seeing Pine" seems to have stepped right out of The Wizard of Oz.

Rymer, on the other hand, delves into an abstract-expressionist revival mode that's dead-on 1950s. This is not too different from Kriegsman's '40s retro. (As it turns out, Rymer was a student of Kriegsman's at DU.)

Rymer's "Blue Note" is marvelous. The painting's ground is mostly white, with dark, arching calligraphic lines running across the surface. Also very good are Rymer's drawings, several of which have already sold. Like "Blue Note," these drawings are mostly white.

The Thomson and Rymer show closes next week; Icons runs through the end of August.


Over at Edge Gallery in north Denver, a very nice installation is the sole attraction of lisa chicoyne: one by some. Chicoyne is a Colorado Springs artist who has been showing her work in Denver for only a couple of years.

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