Art Review

Colorado Modernism: 1930-1970

Tracy Felix's Colorado Modernism: 1930-1970 (see review) at Foothills Art Center (809 15th Street, Golden, 303-279-3922) brings together the work of around three dozen painters; one sculptor, Robert Mangold; and a single photographer, James Milmoe. There are only three Mangolds, which is in line with the other artists in the show, but there are thirty Milmoes, which constitutes an in-depth solo.

The genesis for the Milmoe portion was the exhibit last spring at Gallery Sink titled Early Colorado Contemporary Photography, which showcased the cutting-edge photo scene happening here during the '50s and '60s. Felix's original idea was to do a mini-version of it as part of his major production, and he wanted to include a few things by Milmoe along with pieces by Winter Prather and Walter Chappell, among others. Felix met with Milmoe, who had organized the Sink show, and the senior photographer suggested that he be given a solo instead, which is what happened.

All aspects of this section were left to Milmoe, who picked out the pieces, and to Jack Curfman, a curator emeritus of sorts, who laid them out. Both men did an admirable job: The photos look beautiful and are beautifully installed despite being in the Kiln Room, which has got to be the worst legitimate exhibition space in the region.

Milmoe has a fifty-year-plus career as a professional photographer, and among the diverse things he's done are the color abstracts shown here. The photos relate well to the paintings seen elsewhere in the show, even if the Milmoes are not true abstractions. The subject of each image is readily recognizable for what it is -- a weathered sign, a crinkled piece of metal, etc. -- but because Milmoe zoomed in on it and limited the field of vision, it reads as an abstraction. A good example is "Denver Wall," from 1966, which depicts painted bricks (above).

There's a lot to recommend Colorado Modernism at Foothills, and the big selection of Milmoes is definitely one of the main attractions. Make the effort to see the whole shebang before it closes on September 3.

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