Anxiety and Desire. Clare Cornell, assistant professor of digital imaging at the Metropolitan State College of Denver, put together Anxiety and Desire, an exhibit of photo-based pieces that address psychological concepts. He included work from an array of artists from around the country, each working in their own ways, though much of it is only vaguely psychological in content. Cinthea Fiss takes photos of bedridden people on television. Donna Tracy uses special effects to create portraits of people and animals. Leta Evaskus does montages of nude women with their X-rays, while Robert Flynt's montages combine historic shots with contemporary ones. Mark Kessell does oddball, intimate portraits. Clarissa Sligh records a woman becoming a man. And finally, Mary Beth Heffernan photographs copies of Christ's loincloth made of chicken skin -- no kidding. Anxiety and desire are strange concepts on which to hang an art show, which is surely why the art in this show is so strange. Through January 15 at the Center for Visual Art, 1734 Wazee Street, 303-294-5207.
Better Times, et al. Contemporary painter Evan Colbert has been successfully riffing on minimalism, pop art and conceptualism for the last several years -- and he's not about to stop now. Among his most interesting pieces are those in which Colbert creates a color field based on paint chips and then labels it with an evocative word. For this recent body of paintings, displayed in Better Times at the + Gallery, Colbert uses colors and words to evoke political themes, such as the one referencing the Department of Homeland Security's color coding of terrorist threat levels. It's great. Also at + Gallery is Nocturnal Suburbia, in which Patti Hallock takes shots of the suburbs at night. There's an implicit indictment in these views of cheap materials used mundanely, but this socio-cultural narrative is offset by the poetics of the darkness that envelops the scenes. Finally, there's Cremasteric Reflex Corset, a signature piece by Ira Sherman, one of the region's most respected vanguard sculptors. The contraption is a high-tech torture device with the fine detailing of a piece of jewelry. Implicitly, it's intended to be worn by an unlucky man. Through January 7 at + Gallery, 2350 Lawrence Street, 303-296-0927.
Filters of the Twentieth Century. Over the last couple of decades, there's increasingly been a problem with making neat and tidy distinctions between photojournalism and fine-art photography. Art is exactly what's in store for viewers of Filters of the Twentieth Century: Margaret Bourke-White, Carl Mydans on display at Cherry Creek's Gallery M. True, Bourke-White and Mydans were photojournalists, but their works are examples of fine-art photography anyway. Bourke-White did Life magazine's first cover, "Fort Peck Dam," in 1936; an estate print of it is included at Gallery M. The exhibit also has photos Bourke-White took for Erskine Caldwell's 1939 book, You Have Seen Their Faces, which was her personal response to photos of the rural poor taken for the Farm Service Administration. Like Bourke-White, Mydans was one of the first generation of Life photographers, and before that he worked for the FSA. The show could be criticized for being way too crowded, but considering what it's crowded with -- stunning images by Bourke-White and Mydans -- who cares? Through January 31 at Gallery M, 2830 East Third Avenue, 303-331-8400. Reviewed October 14.
Graphics by 20th Century Masters. The Gallery of Contemporary Art at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs is hosting this impressive traveling show, which highlights a who's who of the world of modern art. Graphics by 20th Century Masters includes more than sixty prints in a wide range of techniques, all collected by Wes and Missy Cochran of Georgia. Wes began collecting pop art as a young man in the 1960s when he was working in the oil fields in the Middle East. Interestingly, the Cochrans are not wealthy -- Wes works as a stonemason, and Missy is a public-school teacher -- and that's surely why they choose to collect prints, which are more affordable than paintings or sculptures. As might be expected, there's depth in the pop art realm, with examples by Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Indiana and Claes Oldenburg, but there are also major works from early in the century, by the likes of Picasso, Chagall and Dalí. There are so many different artists doing so many different things, it's tempting to call the show comprehensive, though, of course, it isn't. Through January 28 at the Gallery of Contemporary Art, 1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway, Colorado Springs, 1-719-262-3567.
NOT YOUR TYPE. The Singer Gallery at the Mizel Center for Arts and Culture is presenting NOT YOUR TYPE: Works in Words by Roland Bernier, Rick Griffith and Martin Mendelsberg, an art show about words. Simon Zalkind, Singer's director, organized the exhibit as the visual-art component of the center's annual Leah Cohen Festival of Books and Authors. Zalkind cleverly put graphics -- a widely seen but rarely exhibited art form -- with that old exhibition workhorse: painting. The lone painter in the show, Roland Bernier, has been using words as an aesthetic device for nearly forty years. Bernier's work looks great next to the graphics of Rick Griffith and Martin Mendelsberg, because they also use words to make their art -- but for different reasons. Bernier is one of the modern masters of the area, and Griffith and Mendelsberg are both extremely well known. It's a diverse group of pieces, but the show is somewhat unified because there are all those words everywhere. Through December 30 at the Mizel Center for Arts and Culture, 350 South Dahlia Street, 303-399-2660.
The Quest for Immortality. With the rise of archaeology in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, scientists began excavating Egyptian tombs and discovering a wide array of gorgeous artifacts. This tomb art is what makes the blockbuster currently on display at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science absolutely fabulous. A traveling exhibit about midway through its coast-to-coast tour, The Quest for Immortality was organized by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., in collaboration with Copenhagen's United Exhibits Group and Cairo's Supreme Council of Antiquities. An army of scientists, curators and scholars worked on it, headed up by Betsy M. Bryan, a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The heart of the exhibit includes objects found in the tomb of Thutmose III, as well as an astounding digital re-creation of the tomb itself. The show is jammed with visitors, but don't let all the people -- or the steep ticket prices -- dissuade you: This is one show that you've really got to see to believe. Through January 23 at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, 2001 Colorado Boulevard, 303-322-7009. Reviewed October 7.
TIWANAKU. In the Helen Bonfils Stanton Galleries on the first floor of the Denver Art Museum is the unusual show TIWANAKU: Ancestors of the Inca. Tiwanaku was a large city on the shores of Lake Titicaca, in the mountains of Bolivia, that existed from 200 to 1100 A.D. The people who lived there, also called Tiwanaku, were not really ethnically related to the Inca, though the Inca adopted them as their cultural forebears and believed they were gods. Margaret Young-Sánchez, the DAM's pre-Columbian curator, put together the show, which is groundbreaking as a scholarly endeavor. There are nearly a hundred objects, including ritual pieces, ceramics, gold jewelry, pottery and a selection of remarkable textiles. Interestingly, much of the material is not from Tiwanaku, coming instead from surrounding towns. After all, the Inca -- and then the Spanish -- had looted the place centuries earlier, so there's little left. Through January 23 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000. Reviewed November 25.