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Four abstract shows consider Mind Over Matter at Space Gallery

Space Gallery owner Michael Burnett is an established abstract painter, so it's no surprise that he'd be good at picking others of that ilk to present at his venue. Currently, there are four eponymous solos brought together under the umbrella title of Mind Over Matter that make the point. The whole is very elegant, with the distinct parts authored by each member of the quartet working seamlessly with the others.

In the entry space is Carlene Frances, made up of distinctive abstracts from an artist whose work has become better known around here in the past year or so. For these paintings, Frances employs an extremely limited palette. In some, it's cool shades of black, white and gray, while in others, it's a warm sepia with a whiff of rose. The paintings have asymmetrically balanced compositions, with lots of automatic gestures such as graphite scribbles.

In the adjoining space is Karen Scharer. Although Scharer is a plein-air painter, she doesn't produce landscapes outdoors, like others who do that type of work; rather, she makes pure abstractions that are broadly inspired by the environment around her mountain home. The resulting paintings are all-over compositions that have been rapidly and instinctually done — which, come to think of it, are plein-air characteristics.

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Mind Over Matter

The double-height gallery to the south at Space is split between Patricia Aaron and Ian McLaughlin. The scuffed and heavily worked Aaron paintings, which have a sumptuous dull glow from the waxy encaustics she used, are the artist's response to the painted-out and covered-over graffiti she saw on a vacation to Florida. McLaughlin's paintings feature stacked-up vegetal and floral shapes that he describes as "botanical science fiction" — a description that is apt and easy to see in "Bursting" (pictured), done in mixed material on board. McLaughlin adds some conceptual elements, such as the idea of what he calls an "x factor" in the form of collaborators who are invited to insert elements in a call-and-response process.

Mind Over Matter runs through June 1 at Space Gallery, 765 Santa Fe Drive, 720-904-1088, spacegallery.org.

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