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Charlene Harlow and Linda Campbell. In the west gallery at Edge, co-op member Charlene Harlow has unveiled a suite of unusual abstract paintings in the exhibit New Work by Charlene Harlow. These paintings are bold in several ways: The colors are loud, and she's used some difficult juxtapositions of tones. The organic abstract compositions themselves are quite loud, too. Some of the forms Harlow uses recall those from surrealist abstractions of the mid-twentieth century, but they've been executed as though they were cartoons. There's an unevenness to some of the passages within the paintings, but Harlow's obviously on to something that looks new. In the east gallery, there's On the Road to Athens: Fiber Art by Linda Campbell, which comprises a series of installations in which the artist uses gauzy fabrics and meshes to create her complicated works. One piece takes the form of a tiny bed, another resembles a quilt, while the largest one is an elaborate ceiling-mounted contraction that seems to float over a composition laid on the floor made of carefully arranged sheets of paper. Through May 16 at Edge Gallery, 3658 Navajo Street, 303-477-7173,

Looking for the Face.... The half-dozen shows at MCA Denver are collectively titled Looking for the Face I Had Before the World Was Made. Adam Lerner, the museum's director, acted as lead curator for the exhibits with new hire Nora Burnett Abrams acting as his assistant. Michaël Borremans is a solo dominated by contemporary realist paintings. The diminutive paintings have a decidedly Old Master-ish character. Less compelling is Samuel Beckett, a spoken monologue on DVD from the author's "Not I" taken from "Beckett on Film," by Neil Jordan. Lorraine O'Grady: Miscegenated Family Album comprises 16 diptychs of found images in which O'Grady put together shots from her family album with images of an ancient Egyptian artifact. William Stockman is dedicated to some recent monumental drawings by the well-recognized local artist. The oddest show here, A. G. Rizzoli, is made up of meticulously done drawings depicting hypothetical buildings, and the last of the group is Eric and Heather ChanSchatz: 10,483,200 Minutes, which records a series of pseudo-collaborations. Through May 23 at MCA Denver, 1485 Delgany Street, 303-298-7554, Reviewed March 18.

Pard Morrison. One of the top artists who champion the less-is-more approach is being featured right now in Pard Morrison: At the Edge of the World, at Rule Gallery. Director Robin Rule has a special interest in minimalism and its progeny and cousins, so Rule is the place to see this kind of material. Morrison is a graduate of Colorado State University and lives in Colorado Springs, where he grew up. He's exhibited his work, which he dubs "human minimalism," for the past five or six years. Morrison's pieces are hybrids of paintings and sculptures. He first creates forms in aluminum and then has them powder-coated in a variety of colors. The forms and colors both have hard-edged margins and are typically rectilinear in shape. Morrison has retouched the colors so that they have a softness and muted character not typically associated with his high-tech patinating process. His signature works are wall-hung bas-reliefs that function as two-dimensional objects when seen straight-on, but when seen at an angle shift into three dimensions. Through May 22 at Rule Gallery, 227 Broadway, Unit 101, 303-777-9473, Reviewed May 6.

Ray Tomasso. The Byers-Evans House Gallery — in the carriage house — is hosting New Works in Paper: Ray Tomasso, a solo comprised of recent work by this well-known Colorado artist. The space is not ideal for exhibiting art, but Tomasso and his wife, Diane, have done a good job of making the most of it. As indicated in the title, Tomasso's medium of choice is paper, but these aren't works on paper; rather, the pieces are made out of paper. Following an elaborate process that begins with cotton rags reduced to pulp, Tomasso casts layers of wet sheets that result in abstract bas-relief panels that look like hybrids of paintings and sculptures. His technique in paper-making was self-taught, though he was trained in the related fields of ceramics and printmaking. Unlike many artists who work with paper, Tomasso does not start with colored pulp; instead, he uses un-dyed pulp that he then paints and seals. The results are very engaging because of the topography of the various forms and the handling of the colors. Most of the works are purely abstract, while others contain hints of the Western landscape. Through May 29 at the Byers-Evans House Gallery, 1310 Bannock Street, 303-620-4933, Reviewed April 29.

Shape & Spirit. This wonderful selection of antique bamboo articles is the first show in the newly unveiled Walter and Mona Lutz Gallery on the fifth floor of the Denver Art Museum's Ponti building. Walter and Mona Lutz, for whom the gallery is named, began collecting bamboo from throughout Japan, where they lived; in the 1960s, they expanded their collecting to include bamboo pieces from the rest of Asia. The couple collected ahead of the curve, allowing them to find exquisite things in a wide range of categories. There are baskets, of course, which is what most people might think of when the idea of objects made of bamboo comes up, but there are also sculptures and lanterns, fans and brush-pots, trays and tea-ceremony utensils, among a wide range of both decorative and utilitarian objects. For Shape & Spirit, curator Ron Otsuka selected 200 items from the Lutz collection, which have been given to the DAM. And he has intelligently and beautifully installed them in minimalist-designed showcases made especially for the new gallery. Through September 19 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-866-5000,

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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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