Core New Art Space, one of the city’s old-line co-ops, is hosting three members in the main gallery, its usual format, as well as one outsider in the tidy annex. The lineup includes two abstract painters and two representational ones, but drilling down, each has chosen a highly individual path to the medium.
The lion’s share of the main space is taken up by Summer Series, very painterly, oil-on-canvas closeups of bouquets of flowers by Gina Smith Caswell. The bouquets are not depicted with photographic realism, but instead in a more traditional style reminiscent of impressionism and realism. Nonetheless, Caswell has made the paintings more contemporary through the cropping of the subject matter and by their unnatural scale. Though Caswell typically employs the relatively smallish, easel-sized format, the flowers themselves are enormous, rendered way over life-sized.
In the southeast part of the gallery is Numinosity, elegant abstractions by Tracey Russell. Her paintings have veils of color-fields that have been marked by automatist scribbled lines. Using birch panels, Russell covers them with oil paint, oil stick and other pigments, plus graphite and wax; she then scratches them using different tools to create varied surfaces and those lines. In this way she is able to reveal underpainting in different areas of the composition, and the resulting paintings are somber versions of neo-abstract expressionism.
Also coming out of the abstract expressionist tradition are the paintings in Lola Montejo’s Ordered Disorder, displayed in the southwest corner. These lively paintings are really something. Montejo has said that her decision-making while painting is guided by instinct, and that’s apparent here. Using broad brushstrokes, Montejo selectively paints out the passages that she has laid on previously. Probably her greatest strength is her unerring eye for color combinations, and each painting has its own unique palette. I’ve been aware of Montejo’s talent for a while, but she just seems to be getting better and better.
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There's a genuine revelation In the annex off the entry: Radar Towers, incredibly accomplished paintings by emerging artist Gianni Coria. Though Coria is still in his twenties, these works demonstrate an extremely high level of technical ability. His gigantic, acrylic-on-canvas works are crowded with so many details, it’s hard to imagine that he could squeeze anything else in. Then there are the thousands of brush strokes needed to flesh out these details; surely, he couldn’t get one more of these in, either. Coria juggles many different interests in these staggeringly complex paintings: cartoon figures, depictions of ceremonies and processes (including hydroponics, as well as the plants and clouds that root the outlandish imagery into our earthly reality.
Why isn't Coria better known around here? The only reason I can think of is that he hails from Durango, which is just about as far as you can get from Denver and still be in Colorado. Keep your eyes peeled for this guy.
The four shows run through October 21 at Core New Art Space, 900 Santa Fe Drive. Call 303-297-8428 or go to coreartspace.com for more information.