Art Review

Imaginative Artists Find New Ways to Deal With the Western Landscape Tradition

The landscape has long fascinated artists, particularly in the American West, with those interested in the form today falling into two broad categories. There are artists who re-create the high points of nineteenth and early-twentieth-century realism and impressionism. And there are those who try to introduce new ways of dealing with the old warhorse. I'm not much interested in the former, though I can appreciate the skill it takes. But the latter has long captivated me, because in addition to skill, it also takes a lot of imagination to pull off something fresh in the staid genre.

The current duet at Goodwin Fine Art, Far North & Outer Space, features new takes on the landscape by Beau Carey, a onetime Denver artist who now lives in Albuquerque, and Denver's Lanny DeVuono.

See also: Ronald Otsuka, Who Built the DAM's Asian Art Department, Retires After 41 Years

Many of the Careys, installed in the front, are snow scenes inspired by a National Park Service artist residency he had in a cabin at the base of Denali in Alaska last winter.

Carey is interested in mashing up representation with abstraction. He points out that simply by introducing a horizontal line, an artist can suggest a landscape, as he does in "Batholith" (pictured). In this painting, which is a hybrid of a landscape and a color-field abstraction, that horizontal line divides a very realistic rendition of a mountain floating on an indefinite ground above from a section below in which very dark passages of black and blue are accented by the faux reflection of the mountain in fiery oranges and yellows.

To say that the DeVuono paintings, in the back space, provide the perfect complement to the Careys would be an understatement, because in this body of work, she, too, is blending straight representation with color-field abstraction. The work of each artist resonates with that of the other, creating a perfect combo.

DeVuono's views are hypothetical scenes of Mars, and she notes that they are similar in character to views of the Southwest, having the same severity and drama. Most have two elements: a very complex, gray-tone detail of the Martian landscape done in gesso, graphite, gouache and oil; and a dreamy color field meant to convey the planet's atmosphere. The neutral tones of these topographical studies are offset by color fields of distinctive shades of orange, blue, green and red, with each painting limited to a single vaporous hue.

Carey and DeVuono are both alums of RedLine, so this show represents something of a reunion.

Far North & Outer Space runs through November 1 at Goodwin Fine Art, 1255 Delaware Street. Call 303-573-1255 or go to for more information.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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