In the past few years, Denver's art world has reached such a critical mass that many of our marvelous alternative spaces have been lost in the shuffle. As a palliative for that, I'll now lead a whirlwind tour of the present offerings at two of the best.
At Spark Gallery (900 Santa Fe Drive, 720-889-2200, www.sparkgallery.com), there are two member solos: New Work: Rob Watt, devoted to needlework scenes, and Through Kaleidoscope Eyes: Catherine Carilli, made up of abstract paintings. Watt creates tiny, complicated compositions such as "1957," which includes images of a high heel, a black schoolgirl, and tract houses. Carilli's paintings are unified by bright colors — fire-engine red, vampire purple, grass green, and so on — but stylistically they range from figural abstraction to abstract expressionism. A closing reception will be held at Spark on Sunday, May 18, from 1 to 4 p.m.
At Edge Gallery (3658 Navajo Street, 303-477-7173), there are three solos up front and a group show in the back. Material Witness: Ken Peterson comprises the Edge founder's signature work, which involves clumsily rendered figures set against decorative grounds. In The Audacity of Hope Stones: Gayla Lemke, the politically minded ceramics artist has impressed quotations into clay stones and then arranged them on a shelf; although Lemke took the show's title from Barack Obama, the quotes come from a variety of sources. Que Estrellas Te Alumbraran: Russell McKlayer is a show of drawings, including one that the artist did as a kid, and several assemblages. The best of these is "Now Appearing" (pictured), which is dominated by the word "lounge."
In the back gallery at Edge is a student show called Material Thought that showcases seven budding artists from the sculpture department at the University of Colorado at Denver. All are promising, but Tyler Hearn and Tim Flood stand out. A wall-mounted installation in cast aluminum by Flood called "Shall We Dance" is a genuine showstopper, but I do wish it had more room to breathe.
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Like the shows at Spark, those at Edge close on May 18.