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Currents. Traditional American Indian art is a well-established genre, and many Native American artists still practice the old forms of weaving, pottery-making, metalwork and basket-making. But there are also contemporary artists among the tribes, and this latter group is the focus of Currents: Native American Forces in Contemporary Art. The groundbreaking exhibit was organized by Cecily Cullen, the Center for Visual Art's assistant director, who chose seven artists – Norman Akers, Nicholas Galanin, Jeffrey Gibson, Jaune Quick-To-See Smith, Marie Watt, Will Wilson and Melanie Yazzie — working in a range of mediums and styles. Some, such as Watt, comment on traditional Indian art, while others, notably Wilson, are more clearly socio-political in their aesthetic aims. Most, though, only vaguely and subtly reference their ethnic heritage. This exhibit defies stereotypes and at the same time reinforces the idea that it's possible to have both a Native American identity and be part of the international context of contemporary art. Through November 7 at the Metro State Center for Visual Art, 1734 Wazee Street, 303-294-5207, Reviewed October 1.

Louis Recchia and Jennifer Miller. For this show, longtime Pirate member Louis Recchia, who's been a household name in Colorado art for decades, has filled the co-op's front room with an array of his signature neo-expressionist paintings. But he could have done some editing, because there's way too much stuff, even if some of it is pretty good, especially the gigantic image of Alfred E. Neuman of Mad magazine fame on the back wall. The opposite is true of a pair of elegant installations that make up Jennifer Miller: Projections in the darkened Associates Space. Here, Miller has installed "Plane Projection," which consists of a blue light that illuminates the front corner of the gallery and leads the viewer's eye up to the ceiling. Conceptually related, though very different, is "Outside-In #2," in which Miller has painted "shadows" on the floor and walls using flat black paint. The piece was inspired by the view of Pirate's back yard that's not visible from inside, though it's just behind the wall. Through October 25 at Pirate: Contemporary Art, 3655 Navajo Street, 303-458-6058,

Monroe Hodder and Michael Clapper. The main space at Havu is hosting two solos installed together as a stunning duet. Monroe Hodder: Painting Metabolism! Is made up of recent paintings by this great abstractionist, who spends time in both London and Steamboat Springs. Her gorgeous post-minimal paintings of stripes are extremely simple formally and yet very complex in their painterly qualities. The Hodder abstracts provide the perfect backdrop for Michael Clapper: Recent Sculptures, which includes pieces on the floor and on stands; there's even one outside the front door. These sculptures reveal the artist's taste for juxtaposing materials like buff marble and patinated steel, as in the magnificent "Silencio," the show's tour de force. In addition, representational paintings by Armin Mühsam and Debra Salopek are in the Salon, with photos by Fred Hodder on the mezzanine. Through October 31 at William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360, Reviewed October 22.

The Power of Then. Curated by Patty Ortiz, the former director of the Museo de las Américas who now runs the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio, this uneven group show explores the shared Latino experience, as in old-fashioned Chicano art — hence the reference to 'then' in the show's title. But Ortiz adds a wrinkle by zeroing in on post-Chicano works. She selected several Western artists, including two from Colorado: Francisco Zamora and Alex Hernandez. One of the others, Roland Briseño, is essentially given a show within in the show, being represented by many more pieces; unfortunately, as a result, the balance of the exhibit has been thrown off. On the opposite pole is Franco Mondini-Ruiz, who is represented by a handful of tiny sculptures made of found materials. Among the real standouts are David Almaguer, who does neo-pop art using stencils, and Linda Arreola, a conceptualist with a taste for installation. Through January 11 at the Museo de las Américas, 861 Santa Fe Drive, 303-571-4401, Reviewed October 1.

Streams of Modernism. A smart-looking survey of modern design put together by guest curators Katherine and Michael McCoy, this show features some of the many important pieces of furniture — mostly chairs — that are part of the Kirkland's impressive permanent collection. The McCoys' narrative is that designers influence one another, and they've taken a doctrinaire approach to the topic, creating a direct line that connects early-twentieth-century vanguard works to pieces done in the late twentieth century. The survey begins with works by the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright and Charles Rennie Mackintosh before moving on to Bauhaus masters like Mies van der Rohe and Marcel Breuer; it continues with objects by the Cranbrook fellows, such as Charles Eames and Harry Bertoia, and concludes with objects by Italian designers of the '50s through the '70s, notably Gio Ponti and Ettore Sottsass. The show is striking, not only because of the pieces included, but also as a result of the installation that incorporates graphics based on portraits of the designers in the show. Through January 3 at the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, 1311 Pearl Street, 303-832-8576,

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Michael Paglia is an art historian and writer whose columns have appeared in Westword since 1995; his essays on the visual arts have also been published in national periodicals including Art News, Architecture, Art Ltd., Modernism, Art & Auction and Sculpture Magazine. He taught art history at the University of Colorado Denver.
Contact: Michael Paglia

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