Constructed Histories Brings out Dark Truths at David B. Smith

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

David B. Smith Gallery in LoDo is presenting Constructed Histories, an ambitious multimedia show that was put together by guest curator William Morrow. That Morrow has come up with a museum-quality exhibit should come as no surprise, as he was formerly a curator of contemporary art at the Denver Art Museum. He now works as an independent curator, organizing shows for galleries across the country.

One theme in Constructed Histories is political, with many pieces making reference to dark passages from the past. For instance, the artist team of McCallum Tarry has done a trio of images in oil on linen and in toner on silk from their “Evidence of Things Not Seen” series; they are portraits of activists arrested during the 1956 Montgomery bus boycotts. In each of the three, a sheet of nearly transparent silk printed with a ghostly image of one of the arrestees’ mug shots is stretched in front of an oil portrait of the same individual so that the images align with one another. The effect is marvelous.

Also recalling difficult times are two found photos that have been turned into laser-cut jigsaw puzzles by Christoph Draeger; one depicts Nagasaki, and the other the wrecked World Trade Center.

Dinh Q. Le’s magisterial cut-up and rewoven photos concern the bloodthirsty Khmer Rouge (Le grew up in Cambodia).\

Teresa Diehl, who was born in Lebanon, uses nine videos to look at various regions of the world impacted by war and terrorism. Employing black-and-white images, she makes them disappear in stages independently of one another.

Several pieces are less political or not political at all, including the fabulous mixed-media paintings on antique quilt fragments by Sanford Biggers, which read like abstracts. Or Glenn Kaino’s “Escala," in which thrift-shop scales and various objects used as weights have been assembled into a lively wall relief. The scales, which are operational, are put into a precarious balance. Kaino’s equally intriguing “A Plank for Every Pirate” also plays with gravity. In it, hammers are suspended under yardsticks, with the whole conglomeration hanging from the ceiling.

The exhibit’s showstopper is “Everything That Rises,” a circle of folding chairs by Jeremy Dean, who is interested in re-conceptualizing mundane things. In this case, the humble and beat-up chairs are used as elements to build an elegant and monumental sculpture. Another kind of reinterpretation is seen in Dean’s pair of works from his “Convergence” series, wherein the artist unweaves American flags and then reassembles them as threads stretched between straight pins.

Though there is a free-associational character to Morrow’s picks, like a shuffled deck of cards, the pieces he chose to elucidate the idea of constructed histories somehow work together visually. Then again, pulling off a successful aesthetic experience is what curating is really all about.

Constructed Histories runs through March 21 at David B. Smith Gallery, 1543A Wazee Street. For information, call 303-893-4234 or go to davidbsmithgallery.com.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.