The healing power of color provides a soothing tonic for gray March days. An extra-satisfying injection of curative hues highlights a CORE New Art Space show opening Thursday and featuring CORE co-op members Bari De Jaynes, Dean Habegger and Sandra Toland. Not all works were available for previewing, but if the sneak peek is any indication, a restorative rainbow awaits viewers still stuck in dreary winter neutrals.

Color therapists theorize that indigo-to-violet shades are a panacea for stress and can actually calm jangled nerves. Those same deep blues saturate the work of Bari De Jaynes. De Jaynes's theme is "The Blue Curtain," an element that appears in his paintings under various guises, from realistically depicted shower curtains, ladders and fences to the implied veils made by natural forms like clouds or groups of trees. More blues appear in a related collection of the artist's photographs of old walls and various street scenes.

The many bright colors inhabiting De Jaynes's three-dimensional, segmented canvases are overlaid with a transparent blue, a treatment that substantially affects mood. The triptych "Invasion of Privacy" shows a picket fence with window shades, all somewhat abstracted and dyed with a hint of blue. Carefully arranged partitions within the larger piece add a three-dimensional element, as well as a sense of dislocation. "Historical Message" uses the various divisions to hold abstract-expressionist, blue-tinted paintings with representational components. Painted-over photocopies of alarm clocks march up one side of the piece. Wire-mesh screening over the top portion becomes the thematic blue curtain.

Dean Habegger's more somber palette gives an antique feel to his spare, framed assemblages. Habegger likes to use the wavy grain of found-wood scraps to represent water, a symbol that fills his small, precise works with both depth and ambiguity. Habegger uses traditional millwork to frame and enclose his tightly composed wall sculptures. He also polishes and works the mostly wood elements, not just to make them handsome and more precious, but to give an overall unity to the composition, each part of which is similarly treated. Ocher-drenched background painting and wood finishes give the rustic bas-reliefs a timeless, era-splicing look. In "Construction With Hook," a bark-edged hunk of scrap wood is first elaborately framed, then painted with a liquid green that soaks into the pores of the wood grain, imitating watery ripples. An incongruous coat hook sticks out as if to remind viewers that the piece ultimately is artificial, not natural. "Salvation/Flood Diptych" contains far more specific imagery--one side of the diptych is painted so that the wood surface appears to drown a small tree, suggesting a dangerous flood scene. On the other side, a tiny life preserver is painted in, hinting at a possible rescue. Habegger's drawings harmonize with De Jaynes's blue period. Dense overdrawing in darks and blues depict common domestic objects. "Guardians of the Standard" shows a sunny, childlike grouping that includes a car and a gas station, all covered with spidery lines to contour the jaunty forms. Other drawings are more disturbing, the blue tint defining and obscuring symbols of happy home life with a threatening, night-colored overtone.

On the lighter side, Sandra Toland's small, brilliantly colored iconic wall pieces decorate CORE's basement with the artist's faux-finish skills. Though Toland's tall polychromatic vessels are well known, this exhibition showcases her skill at faux-painting surfaces and trompe l'oeil. Odd-shaped board "canvases" set the background for realistic representations of seemingly random objects. The campy, humorous results exude a carnival flavor.

The completed CORE show promises many surprises, including breakthrough freestanding sculpture by Habegger and new art (in progress during the preview) by all the artists. If color does heal the body and soul, this is powerful medicine.

Dean Habegger, Bari De Jaynes and Sandra Toland, March 17-27 at CORE New Art Space, 1412 Wazee Street, 571-4831.

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.
Hart Hill