Conversations in Clay. The ceramics exhibit at the Lakewood Cultural Center has been causing a lot of commotion ever since Lakewood City Manager Mike Rock ordered that part of a piece be removed for being "anti-American." The piece that Rock and members of the Lakewood City Council had a problem with is by Gayla Lemke, one of three artists in Conversations in Clay; the others are Caroline Douglas and Marie E.v.B. Gibbons. The objectionable piece was part of Lemke's "Hope Stones," which is made up of ceramic forms in the shape of stones that are impressed with quotations about the futility of war. Among the quotes Air Force veteran Lemke chose was one by political commentator Bill Maher, which some found offensive. In Lakewood, that meant it had to go. The controversy has overshadowed the show, which is pretty nice and includes figures by Douglas and a nature-based installation by Gibbons. Nonetheless, with the removal of the difficult element, the City of Lakewood diminished its center's credibility. Through March 25 at the Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 South Allison Parkway, 303-987-7876. Reviewed March 3.
Cribs. Carley Warren is the subject of a thoughtfully conceived and handsomely presented solo, Cribs, on display in the intimate indoor space at Artyard Sculpture Gallery, an unbelievably small and modestly appointed room that almost always looks good. Warren, a Golden-based artist, established her local reputation in the late '70s with large-scale installations, typically made of wood, but in recent years she's gotten more interested in smaller-scale works, like the pieces in Cribs. The most common understanding of the word "cribs" would be as babies' beds, but the mostly vertically oriented Warren sculptures seem more like stalls in a barn, which could be considered "cribs" as well. (They also have horizontal, rather than vertical, bars, unlike baby cribs.) Though Warren's sculptures are relentlessly non-objective, with no direct references to recognizable imagery (most are triangular towers that refer to architecture and even furniture), they nonetheless have a narrative component suggesting a sense of confinement. Through March 12 at Artyard Sculpture Gallery, 1251 South Pearl Street, 303-777-3219. Reviewed February 24.
IN LIMBO. Internationally known contemporary-art collectors Vicki and Kent Logan maintain a residence in Vail and, lucky for us, have become involved in the cultural life of Colorado. In addition to providing a raft of works partially promised to the Denver Art Museum, the collecting couple has facilitated a relationship between the museum and the University of Denver. IN LIMBO is the second Logan-connected show at DU, but the first in which students -- under the direction of curator and professor Gwen Chanzit -- have been allowed to use the DAM's Logan Collection as well the couple's private stash to come up with it. More often than not, too many cooks spoil the broth, but not in this case. The show is first-rate but surprisingly conservative, considering the tender ages of the organizers. The students chose mostly representational paintings and photographs, and there are only two sculptures. Among the artists included are Bo Bartlett, Jack Pierson, Ron Mueck, Cindy Sherman, Su-En Wong, and almost a dozen others. Through March 11 at the Victoria H. Myhren Gallery, 2121 East Asbury Avenue, 303-871-2846. Reviewed January 20.
Leaving Aztln. The Center for Visual Art in LoDo is presenting a provocative show, Leaving Aztlán: Rethinking Contemporary Latino and Chicano Art. Kaytie Johnson from the Peeler Art Center at DePauw University put it together with input from, among others, CVA director Kathy Andrews. The show examines new trends being embraced by Latino and Chicano artists -- and by Latinas and Chicanas -- and in the process explores the convoluted relationships between art and ethnicity. Ten years ago this would have been an overtly political show, but now, though politics are still in the mix, there are also many pieces that express cutting-edge aesthetic theories. Artists from across the country were selected -- including Jesse Amado, Connie Arismendi, Javier Carmona, Alex Donis, Diana Guerrero-Mácia, John Hernandez, Benito Huerta, Chuck Ramirez, Juan Ramos and Rubén Ortiz Torres -- but Johnson also chose two local talents, Carlos Frésquez and Maria Michelle Gonzalez. Through April 23 at the Center for Visual Art, 1734 Wazee Street, 303-294-5207.