Michael Brohman's Human Nature at Pirate

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Denver artist Michael Brohman is known for conceptual sculptures and installations with ambiguous narratives. He's also known for having edgy, if not questionable, tastes that result in the use of stomach-turning materials like human bones and skulls, animal pelts and remains and, believe it or not, horse manure. And then there are those disturbing hybrids of babies and plucked chickens that have become something of a signature for him. These attributes make a trip to one of his shows something of an adventure.

His latest effort, now at Pirate Gallery (3655 Navajo Street, 303-458-6058, www.pirateartonline.com), has the evocative — and open-ended — title of Human Nature, and it features all the things I've mentioned and more. But either I'm becoming inured to his extremism or he's calming down a bit, because I didn't find this offering to be as outrageous as usual — and I mean that as a compliment. I found the show, which fills not only the main gallery but stretches into the Associates Space, to be pretty compelling, and I didn't feel like throwing up even once.

Maybe it has to do with Brohman's artist statement, wherein he points out that he's a Western artist: With that revelation, the pieces reveal themselves as having a regional character, something I hadn't considered before. Cow horns, elk antlers, rusting bed springs, a bear skin, a hunter's weight, even a tractor tire all say "American West."


Michael Brohman

The title piece, "Human Nature" (pictured), is a bear skin that's been pinned to the wall and has a human skull attached to the head; it's definitely eye-catching. Another standout is "Ascent," a bust with elk antlers placed on top of a tall ladder. One of the most powerful pieces is the three-part installation "Cowboys," in which the rusted frame of a folding cot has a pair of cow skulls on top; hung on the end walls on either side are two pairs of bronze-cast briefs. Cow horns standing in for erect penises emerge from the leg-holes of the briefs, giving the piece a very Brokeback Mountain quality.

The Brohman show at Pirate runs through September 13.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.