Early Thaw

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These similarities aside, there are many differences between Wilde and Sullivan, especially their dramatically divergent approaches to surface treatments. Wilde's surfaces are flat and her colors finely blended, whereas Sullivan's surfaces are covered with heavily built-up paint that's even been scuffed or rubbed off in places.

Some of Sullivan's pieces concern natural topics other than clouds, including one large fifteen-part painting of autumn leaves and a pair of multi-panel paintings of rivers. The little, copper-colored square panels across the top of the river paintings are neat but lack integration with the rest of the pieces, and so ultimately don't work.

Though looking to nature for inspiration seems very old-fashioned to me, it's fascinating that the artists in Luminous Nature, Bloom and other shows around town -- and around the country -- are so hard at work keeping it up to the minute, thus ensuring that an interest in nature remains credibly contemporary.

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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