The RiNo district, north of downtown, is now a center for art, but it was originally one of Denver's prime industrial areas. Among the landmarks in the funky neighborhood is the old Dry Ice Factory, a handsome and substantial brick structure from the 1920s that looks like a misplaced element from LoDo.
Last year, the Ice Cube Gallery (3320 Walnut Street, 303-292-1822, www.icecubegallery.com) opened on the structure's first floor and, in the process, turned the place into Denver's newest and most impressive artist cooperative, featuring a stunning set of exhibition spaces that resemble an interior you'd expect to find in a fancy downtown gallery. The current shows comprise two installations by a pair of Ice Cube's founding members: On the north side of the main space is Kathy Knaus: Meat Market, and on the south side is Theresa Anderson: Coliseum.
Knaus, who has lived in Colorado since she was a child, created an autobiographical piece that refers to her life as a butcher's daughter. Her father opened Edwards Meats in Wheat Ridge back in the '60s, and Knaus worked behind the counter when she was a teenager. For the show, she had a meat cooler made using the metal door her father built (detail above) and brought in his old sausage maker and other elements of the store. On the walls are a row of soiled butcher's jackets and sheets of butcher paper; on one, Knaus has made a wallpaper-like pattern using bloody liver prints.
On the opposite side of the space, Anderson has lined the walls with smallish mixed-media works that include nude photos of herself that were taken during a private performance. These have been combined with found and drawn imagery along with passages of writing. The Anderson show is anchored by a pair of large boxes sitting in the middle of the floor that viewers may enter; one is lined in paintings done in her unique style, while the other has a smaller box inside with a peephole in it.
These two quirky shows run through March 20 at Ice Cube.