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Emilio Lobato and Sangeeta Reddy. Mixed-media artist and painter Emilio Lobato is surely near the top of anyone's list of abstract artists in the region. His work relates well to that of the late Dale Chisman, as both artists studied with Mary Chenoweth at Colorado College. His latest creations, many of which are three-dimensional, are featured in Casi Casi (Bit by Bit); in them, Lobato has reinterpreted his own early work. This move was almost inevitable after he prepared for his lifetime retrospective at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (opening March 4; see, which caused him to re-look at many of the pieces he'd done over the last few decades. In truth, though, many seem to be unprecedented in his oeuvre. Lobato's always been good, but these latest works might be his best ever. On the mezzanine is a self-titled solo called Sangeeta Reddy. India native and Denver artist Reddy creates lyrical — and colorful -- abstract compositions on paper. The Reddy show is the perfect companion exhibit to the Lobato outing. Through April 9 at the William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360,

 Halim Alkarim, Bill Armstrong and Eric Schwartz. Denver artist Halim Alkarim, who was born in Iraq, has created a new body of photo-based lambda prints, Hidden Love, that continues his sophisticated meditation on veiled women from his native culture. The monumental portraits -- which are stunning -- are handsomely installed in the main front spaces at Robischon Gallery. Each pairs gray shades with bright ones. These colors are used to obscure the faces in the portraits except for their eyes, which are sharply detailed. The portraits are ultra-aloof in a decidedly neo-Warholian way, a sensibility that's in the air right now. This is proved in spades by the adjoining solo, Bill Armstrong: Renaissance, in which the New York artist takes photos of Old Master paintings using the "infinity" setting and throwing them out of focus. Some have limited palettes with toned-up shades, while others are done in full color. Beyond is the third solo on view, from Eric Schwartz, who lives in Colorado and California. Titled L. A. in Black and Gray, the show features portraits of heavily tattooed Latino gangsters. Through March 26 at Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee Street, 303-298-7788,

 Kim Dickey. An installation exploring the relationships between gardening and ceramics, Kim Dickey: All Is Leaf is an indoor version of a formal planting. The show's title is taken from a quote by Goethe summing up his study of botany, and for Dickey, the romantic idea that a big topic can be reduced to a simple idea was appealing. With that in mind, she turned Rule Gallery into a maze of "hedges," with viewers zigzagging their way through it. These "hedges," some very large, are constructed out of aluminum sheets. The sheets have been covered with small quatrefoil ceramic pieces glazed a shade of soft green that has many variations in tones. The quatrefoils look like leaves, but they were designed by Dickey as abstractions and are not based on any specific leaf found in nature. In various spots, the "hedges" have been accented by sculptures of animals and plants done in the age-old "Green Man" tradition, in which subjects are carried out with vegetal motifs. The installation is stunning, and it's the last for Rule in its Broadway location, as the gallery is moving soon to RiNo. Through March 5 at Rule Gallery, 227 Broadway, 303-777-9473, Reviewed February 24.

What Is Modern? Department of Architecture, Design and Graphics curator Darrin Alfred has put together this large show dedicated to furniture and decor from the early nineteenth to the early 21st century. Alfred has included groundbreaking tables, storage units, lighting and -- no surprise here, considering Alfred's specialty -- graphics. Laudably, Alfred takes a chronological look at how technological advancements informed the development of modernism, starting with a bentwood chair from 1808 by Samuel Gragg. Its overall form is very sleek, with a gracefully curving back, but the details are very different, being almost precious, like the little hooves that mark the termination of the legs. One of the newest pieces in the show is "Roadrunner," a chair from 2006 by Colorado's own David Larabee and Dexter Thornton working together as DoubleButter. Made of a cheap synthetic, the chair is nonetheless elegant. In between the two chairs, Alfred has installed a wide assortment of classics from the annals of modernism. Through November 30, 2011, at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, Reviewed December 23.

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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