Allen True's West. Allen Tupper True was Denver's premier muralist during the first third of the twentieth century. Sadly, many of his commissions have been painted over or were lost when the buildings they were in were demolished. In an act of cooperation, the three big cultural institutions on the Civic Center are jointly presenting a three-part blockbuster in True's honor, the first time in many years such a collaboration has been attempted. At the Denver Public Library, on the fifth floor, is Allen True and American Illustration, examining his early work in illustration. In the Denver Art Museum's Hamilton Building is Allen True the Fine Artist, which examines his easel painting career. And finally, there's Art for the Public: Allen True's Murals, on the lower level of the Colorado History Museum. The shows demonstrate that True was a top talent and will help to correct the fact that he's mostly been forgotten. Through March 28 at the Denver Public Library, 10 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-1111, www.denverlibrary.org; the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, www.denverartmuseum.org; Colorado History Museum, 1300 Broadway, 303-866-3682, www.coloradohistory.org. Reviewed January 7.
Embrace! Christoph Heinrich, the Denver Art Museum's director-in-waiting, has unveiled his over-the-top installation show, Embrace! The sprawling exhibit meanders through the four levels of the Frederic C. Hamilton Building, with the atrium becoming the central axis. The idea was to have artists create pieces in response to the outlandish spaces found throughout the unconventional building. Heinrich favored works that allow viewers to walk into them, and since he's partial to painting, that medium plays the starring role (rather than new media, as might be expected). Heinrich selected seventeen artists, and they make for an international cast, including Katharina Grosse from Germany, China's Zhong Biao and El Anatsui from Ghana. But there's also a trio of Denver artists — Rick Dula, John McEnroe and Timothy Weaver, working together with his students from the University of Denver — and bravo to Heinrich for that. Through April 4 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, www.denverartmuseum.org. Reviewed November 26.
Jeff Aeling, Rick Dula and Jeanette Pasin Sloan. Contemporary realism is the dominant theme that binds these three elegant solos at Havu. The main attraction is Jeff Aeling, dedicated to the Kansas City-based painter, who spent many years in Colorado. Aeling's subject is the Great Plains — or, more specifically, the skies over them. His handsome Western-style landscapes in wide black frames capture the minimalism of the prairie topography juxtaposed with the complicated atmospheric events in the clouds overhead. In the salon, toward the back, is Rick Dula, featuring an assortment of this Denver artist's hyperrealist paintings, including some from his well-known series dedicated to the Denver Art Museum's Hamilton Building. Dula's related mural, "A Moment in Time: Here" is one of the standouts in Embrace!, on view now at the DAM. On the mezzanine at Havu, there's Jeanette Pasin Sloan, made up of fanatically realistic still-life watercolors. Like many photo-realism pioneers, Sloan revels in reflective and translucent surfaces that show off her remarkable drafting skill. Through February 20 at William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360, www.williamhavugallery.com.
Remembering Dale Chisman. There's no question that Dale Chisman, who died in 2008, was one of the most important artists to have ever worked in Colorado, and his output set a high standard. Furthermore, Chisman had direct connections to other important Colorado artists like Martha Epp and Mary Chenoweth, both of whom were teachers of his. Like them, Chisman was an heir to the abstract-expressionist approach that dominated twentieth-century American art. This exhibit highlights his work from the late '80s and early '90s and includes a group of his remarkable paintings and an even larger selection of luscious prints. Z Art Department owner Randy Roberts and gallery director Paul Hughes have done a beautiful job with the installation, giving the show a strong visual statement. Chisman strengths included his excellent sense for color and his automatist approach to the compositions. The prints, nearly all of which were pulled by Mark Lunning at his Open Press, are closely related to the paintings and include small, intimate works as well as large, elaborate ones. Through February 27 at Z Art Department, 1136 Speer Boulevard, 303-298-8432.
Robert Mangold. The dean of Denver's modern sculptors is the subject of a solo for the first time in more than four years. Simply titled Robert Mangold, it is made up of fairly recent work and contains examples of many well-known series, including his famous "Anemotive Kinetics," which are wind-driven spheres made up of colorful metal scoops mounted on rods, and his "PTTSAAES," sculptures, which do not move but are meant to suggest movement. These linear compositions purportedly record the hypothetical and seemingly random movements of an object as suggested by the acronym that stands for "Point Traveling Through Space at an Erratic Speed." A special feature of this exhibit is the fact that it almost didn't happen, since the seventy-something Mangold had a brush with death last year and might not have been around to complete the pieces. It's an absolute must-see. Through January 30 at Artyard Contemporary Sculpture, 1251 South Pearl Street, 303-777-3219, www.artyardsculpture.com. Reviewed December 3.