Earthly Delights

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The name of the show is taken from one of these important paintings. "Harvest," an oil on canvas from 1999, shows a tree-studded flatland under a heavy and churning sky in pink, yellow and white. Dinsmore's painting style is traditional and recalls the impressionist landscapes of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. More expressionist is another substantial oil on canvas, "Dakota," from 1996, in which a row of trees, one in a dazzling orange, stand in a line in front of purple hills under a Wedgwood-blue sky.

Other Dinsmore paintings are more abstract; in palette and in terms of the composition, they recall the work of the figural abstractionists of the 1950s and '60s. That abstract quality is clearly seen in "Still Life in Landscape #3," an oil on canvas from 1999 that hangs adjacent to "Dakota." Both are in the niche created by the gallery's front windows and can be seen from outside.

Upstairs on the mezzanine loft is the work of two other artists, Judith Lightfield and Anna Mastronardi, but this section is considerably more abbreviated than the downstairs one, with only a handful of pieces.

Lightfield is the only artist in the show who is from Denver. Her work here concerns the luminous sky, a longtime interest for her. In "October 27th," a 1998 acrylic on canvas, a tree stands on one side in the foreground, and glimpsed to the other side are the indefinite hills and smeary sky of the background.

Mastronardi is a Seattle artist who recalls the countryside of her childhood in Italy in elaborate and meticulous Prismacolor pencil drawings. Though she was born in Italy, Mastronardi moved to the United States as a child, which explains the storybook character of her romanticized scenes.

All of the artists in Harvest reveal in their paintings and works on paper the unlikely but continuing appeal of traditional landscape painting.

Over at the Saks Galleries in Cherry Creek, it's the figural tradition that gets a contemporary workout in Patti Cramer: New Faces...New Places, which runs through tomorrow. The show looks gorgeous in the fancy Saks; Cramer's work is a good fit here.

As usual, Cramer captures a chic urban world filled with fashionably dressed people involved with one another and with their cute dogs. In her signature expressionist style, she models her compositions on Renaissance prototypes, in which the life of the street came together to convey a narrative.

Abstracts, still lifes, landscapes and figure paintings are all alive and well, and here it is, the end of the 1900s.

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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