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 (see www.csfineartscenter.org), 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, www.williamhavugallery.com. Reviewed March 24.
Nick Silici and John McEnroe. Pirate — like any co-op — sometimes looks like a garage sale. Other times, like now, it looks as good as any art showroom in town. Nick Silici and John McEnroe has made that happen. Unlike most two-artist shows, this is a true duet, as each artist's work complements the other's — but it's also a bit of a surprise, since they come from completely different perspectives. Silici delves into geometric abstraction with simply composed pieces that are a little neo-minimalist and a little post-minimalist. His square panels have a picture plane with a horizontal line a third of the way up, making an oblique reference to the landscape. McEnroe, on the other hand, is a conceptualist, and though his synthetic sheets hanging on the wall look like miminalist-inspired paintings, they're actually part of a context within his oeuvre linked by the material and not by their specific forms. Through April 3 at Pirate: Contemporary Art, 3655 Navajo Street, 303-458-6058, www.pirateartonline.com.
Robert Benjamin. Denver Art Museum's photography whiz Eric Paddock has uncovered a little-known Colorado master of photography and treated him to a gorgeous solo in the photo gallery on the seventh floor of the Ponti tower. Robert Benjamin: Notes on a Quiet Lifeexamines a man whom Paddock has described as a "photographer's photographer," and bearing that out is the fact that the curator himself discovered Benjamin through Robert Adams, the world-famous photographer who spent most of his career working in Colorado. All of the photos capture everyday sights — not just Benjamin's family and friends, but domestic interiors and shop windows. Those shop window shots are really something, with the glare on the glass adding a surrealist element reminiscent of Atget's photos. All of the Benjamins are large-format chromogenic prints that are exquisitely rich in their range of shades. The show's title perfectly captures the character of the pictures; Benjamin has said that he has personal connections with all his subjects, and it shows. Through April 17 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, www.denverartmuseum.org. Reviewed December 16.
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, www.denverartmuseum.org. Reviewed December 23.
Winter Prather. A half-century ago, a generation of post-war photographers who had embraced experimentation were part of a vanguard photo scene in Denver. At the top of the heap was Winter Prather, who today is virtually forgotten. One of the reasons for his obscurity, aside from the passing of time, is that Prather descended into madness before he died, alienating nearly everyone who could have preserved the flame of his artistic brilliance. Z Art Department's Randy Roberts is aiming to change that with The Blink of an Eye: A Survey of Winter Prather's Work; it's the gallery's entry into Denver's Month of Photography. Prather, who exhibited internationally, worked in a range of forms, including landscapes and cityscapes — many set in Denver — along with abstracted still-life shots and abstractions based on industrial scenes. It is particularly in these last images that Prather reveals his undeniable greatness. Through April 9 at Z Art Department, 1136 Speer Boulevard, 303-298-8432. Reviewed March 17.