Brilliant. If you have any interest in modernism or fine craft — even if you aren't particularly interested in jewelry — you'll find something to marvel over at the Denver Art Museum's winter blockbuster Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century. The show is a visual marathon, with so many things included that it's downright exhausting to see everything. There are some 200 artifacts from the Cartier collection alone, which is maintained by the company, and an additional 55 pieces coming from an array of private collectors. A key revelation is that Cartier began to embrace art deco two decades earlier than just about any other jeweler, thus making the firm a pioneer of modernist design of any kind. The Denver-only exhibit was put together by DAM curator Margaret Young-Sanchez; this was a surprise, as her ordinary stock-in-trade is pre-Columbian art and not modern French jewelry. But she confessed to a lifelong interest in the material. In contrast to the more-is-more aesthetic of most of the diamond-encrusted pieces in the show, there's an unexpected minimalist current in the form of the men's wristwatches. Through March 15 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, denverartmuseum.org. Reviewed December 18.
Charles Parson and Collin Parson. Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center museum director Blake Milteer has put together a major duet, Continuance: Charles and Collin Parson, taking advantage of the unusual circumstance in which a father and son are both committed contemporary artists. It makes sense to link Chuck to his son Collin, but the connections between their respective oeuvres are not readily apparent. In some sense, they come from opposite poles; Chuck's pieces have an emphatic presence, being made of industrial materials that convey a sense of weight, while Collin's are often light — literally — since he sometimes uses hidden LEDs, the glow of which has no actual physicality except on a molecular level. For Continuance, Chuck and Collin are each given their own dedicated spaces, with Collin's rooms coming first. The two parts were conceived as separate shows; the Collin section was organized by CSFAC curator Joy Armstrong, while the Chuck section was curated by Milteer. Through February 15 at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 30 West Dale Street, Colorado Springs, 719-634-5583, csfineartscenter.org. Reviewed January 15.
Myopia. Mark Mothersbaugh, co-founder of the 1970s new-wave rock group DEVO, has had a parallel career in the visual arts and was a budding artist before he became a musician. Celebrities masquerading as artists is all the rage — think James Franco or Miley Cyrus — which made the idea of Myopia, Mothersbaugh's solo at the MCA, a little suspect. But doubts about his commitment to art are immediately dispelled by the quality of the work in the show. From the first gallery — which is given over to Mothersbaugh's pre-DEVO efforts — onward (the show occupies all three floors of the MCA), even the most skeptical will be convinced of Mothersbaugh's dedication, particularly because he's sustained it for over forty years. The exhibit was curated by MCA director Adam Lerner, who met Mothersbaugh at, of all places, the Denver County Fair, and who came away believing him to be among the greatest creative forces of our time. The show also benefits from a gorgeous exhibition design by Ben Griswold. Through April 12 at MCA Denver, 1485 Delgany Street, 303-298-7554, mcadenver.org.
Sam Scott et al. New Mexico's history of modern art has long been intertwined with Colorado's. A case in point is Sam Scott: Desert Light, which is on view at the William Havu Gallery; Scott, a well-known New Mexico artist, has shown his pieces regularly in Colorado over the past forty years. Before moving to New Mexico in 1969, Scott studied art at the Maryland Institute College of Art, where his teachers included Philip Guston and Clyfford Still; stylistically, he's an heir to the abstract expressionism he learned at Still's knee. But instead of creating non-objective compositions like Still did, Scott typically includes abstracted references to the landscape, which explains the title Desert Lightand puts it in the landscape tradition. Sandwiched between the beginning and end of the Scott show is Eugene Newmann, featuring paintings and works on paper by another key figure in New Mexico abstraction. Up on the mezzanine is Dana Newmann, an intimate presentation of funky-surrealist found-object sculptures in which the artist fills drawers and boxes with evocative elements. Through January 31 at William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360, williamhavugallery.com. Reviewed January 8.
Unbound: Sculpture in the Field. Since the Arvada Center sits on a very large site, exhibitions manager Collin Parson and assistant curator Kristin Bueb decided recently to use a small part of it – a seventeen-acre field just to the south of the complex – as a xeric sculpture garden. Parson and Bueb invited Cynthia Madden Leitner, of the Museum of Outdoor Arts in Englewood, to partner with the Venter in the effort. The MOA has made a specialty of placing large pieces of sculpture in various spots around metro Denver, and that technical expertise was very desirable. The group put together a list of sculptors they wanted to include, and the final roster of fifteen artists was established, with most being represented by two pieces. The participating artists, all of whom live in Colorado and work in abstraction or conceptual abstraction, are Vanessa Clarke, Emmett Culligan, John Ferguson, Erick Johnson, Andy Libertone, Nancy Lovendahl, Robert Mangold, Patrick Marold, David Mazza, Andy Miller, Charles Parson, Carl Reed, Joe Riché, Kevin Robb and Bill Vielehr. Through September 30, 2015, at the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Boulevard, 720-898-7200, arvadacenter.org. Reviewed July 10.