Dots, Blobs and Angels. Denver's Museum of Contemporary Art is presenting an enormous solo that is dedicated to the late David Rigsby, an artist who played a big part in the local art scene in the '70s and '80s. The exhibit was organized by director Cydney Payton, who installed it more or less chronologically, allowing Rigsby's stylistic development to shine throughout. The oldest works in the show are two oils on book covers done when Rigsby was a little boy; the newest were done right before he died in a car accident in 1993 -- some of these were done on book covers, too. In between, Rigsby created scores of abstract and figural paintings, as well as a body of remarkable sculptures made of wood and recycled rubber. The outlandish title, Dots, Blobs and Angels, refers to some of the things Rigsby depicted -- though much of what he sculptured during his forty-year-plus career defies description. Clearly, it's one of the hottest shows of the summer. Through September 19 at the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver, 1275 19th Street, 303-298-7554. Reviewed July 8.
Federico Castellon. Hugo Anderson, director of the Emil Nelson Gallery, has put together a riveting solo show devoted to the work of a prominent twentieth-century artist. Castellon was one of the few Americans who embraced European surrealism and worked in the style from the early 1930s -- when it was cutting-edge -- until 1971, the year he died, when it was an all-but-forgotten historical style. Castellon was born in Spain, but he moved to New York as a child and spent the rest of his life there. Though Castellon had no direct personal connection to surrealist masters such as Picasso, Miró or Dalí, who, incidentally, were also born in Spain, his work was influenced by them. This noteworthy show came together when Anderson acquired a cache of Castellons purchased directly from the collection of the artist's estate. The crowded exhibit includes examples of Castellon's paintings, watercolors, drawings and printmaking -- his greatest claim to art-history fame. Through September 25 at the Emil Nelson Gallery, 1307 Bannock Street, 303-534-0996.
Group Show 2. Though the crew at Studio Aiello is not using the word "biennial" for this juried show, that's exactly what it is: Group Show 1 was presented exactly two years ago. Among the large panel of jurors for that first effort, which also marked the venue's grand opening, was Kathy Andrews, the well-known director of the Center for Visual Art. This time, Andrews was tapped to go it alone. Out of the hundreds who applied for Group Show 2, she selected thirty. The resulting display is massive, filling several of the enormous gallery's many spaces. Nearly all of the chosen hail from the greater Denver area. Interestingly, there are several artists who've been exhibiting around town for years but do not typically go in for juried shows. Among these established talents are Mark Brasuell, Jerry De La Cruz, Peter Illig, Wendi Harford, Tsehai Johnson and Irene Delka McCray. More expected in an exhibit such as this one are emerging artists like Morgan Barnes, Agnes Kunz Vigil and Justin Simoni. Finally, there's the work of nearly two dozen others who have varying degrees of art experience. Through October 15 at Studio Aiello, 3656 Walnut Street, 303-297-8166.
Manifestos Abstractos. Ibsen Espada, a Houston-based artist originally from Puerto Rico, and Denver's own Frank T. Martinez have been paired at the + Gallery for Manifestos Abstractos because gallery director Gilbert Barrera believes they both create what could be called Hispanic-flavored abstractions. Both artists have been inspired by their shared Hispanic heritage, language (Spanish) and religion (Roman Catholic), and they both embrace culturally specific factors, such as imagery and color. Espada studied art in his native Puerto Rico and in Cuba. Though earlier known for his heavy, black brushwork, his more recent pieces, such as those at +, are made with a squeegee. He uses the window-washer's tool to "draw" ovals and oblong shapes. Martinez is self-taught, and though he has been an artist since childhood, this exhibit marks his first formal outing in the art world. In his paintings, Martinez incorporates small shapes like circles and squares into his otherwise abstract and expressively painted compositions. Through October 10 at the + Gallery, 2350 Lawrence Street, 303-296-0927.
Open Press LTD. Nineteen eighty-nine was a bad year for the economy in Denver, but no one told the artists, so lots of things were happening in the art world. It was the year that one of the city's cultural treasures, Open Press, was founded. To celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the fine-print facility, which has specialized in working with local artists, the Gallery of Contemporary Art on the campus of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs is putting on Open Press LTD. A 15-Year Retrospective. GCA director Gerry Riggs selected the pieces, but he got considerable input from Mark Lunning, founder and master printer of Open Press. Riggs and Lunning included thirty artists; surprisingly, each is sampled in depth rather than having only a piece or two in the show. The roster reads like a who's who of Denver art of the recent past: Lynn Heitler, Doris Laughton, Homare Ikeda, Reed Weimer, Joe Higgins, Dave Yust, Joellyn Duesberry, Dale Chisman, Tony Ortega, Dismas Rotta and Viviane Le Courtois. It's an interesting and diverse lineup. Through October 1 at the Gallery of Contemporary Art, 1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway on the UCCS campus, Colorado Springs, 1-719-262-3567.
The Show of Good Fortune, et al. Longtime Pirate co-op member Brian Comber is presenting The Show of Good Fortune in the main space. This is Comber's seventh annual show at Pirate, and it's different from his previous efforts, because instead of exhibiting large figural abstractions, he's presenting his other passion: intaglio prints, many of which were done at Denver's Open Press. The prints were all inspired by the proverbs in fortune cookies, with the titles of the pieces being the so-called fortunes themselves. In the Associates' Space is Ground of Being, a solo that's made up of recent drawings and paintings by Lorey Hobbs. The drawings included are preparatory studies for the paintings. Though Hobbs is still a student, she has found early success and is already represented by the prestigious Sandy Carson Gallery. Hobbs works in an abstract-expressionist style and an automatist method, but she does make broad references to the figure and the landscape. An opening reception for these shows and others will be held on Friday, September 17, from 7 to 10 p.m. Through October 3 at Pirate: a contemporary art oasis, 3659 Navajo Street, 303-458-6058.
William T. Wiley. The fall opener at the Center for Visual Art in LoDo is William T. Wiley: 60 Works for 60 Years. The exhibit was organized by Wiley himself, who selected sixty prints from the collection of the Belger Arts Center in Kansas City to celebrate his sixtieth birthday. Obviously the show's been kicking around for a while, because Wiley's actually close to seventy (he turned sixty in 1997). Wiley came of artistic age in the early 1960s and was part of a generation of San Francisco-area artists who embraced what is today called "funk," an offshoot of pop art. He almost immediately found fame, and his pieces were acquired by many American museums over the years, including the Denver Art Museum, which owns, among other things, a major installation. Like the rest of that Bay Area crowd, many of whom also got famous, Wiley combined an array of seemingly contradictory influences, including expressionism, figural abstraction, pop and conceptualism. His work, which has greatly influenced younger artists, is almost always clever -- and sometimes even downright funny, as revealed by this very large show. Through October 16 at the Center for Visual Art, 1734 Wazee Street, 303-294-5207.