Art Review

People and Patterns: Ron Gerbrandt and Dania Pettus at Ice Cube Gallery

There are two shows at Ice Cube Gallery right now, both featuring recent work by new members of the co-op. Each is interesting in its own way — and worth seeing — but there is some urgency since both also close this weekend. 

In the spaces to the right is Ron Gerbrandt: Looking for a Cure, comprised of a set of difficult figural paintings along with an unusual wall-relief sculpture that’s related to them and which absolutely steals the show.

Called “Signs and Symptoms”, it is constructed of several pieces of aluminum that have been cut-out in shapes that correspond to the various elements of a male figure in distress, with Gerbrandt painting realistic details of the body onto these components. The man is captured as he’s vomiting into a toilet. Despite this unappealing subject matter, the piece really works and has its own kind of beauty.

Gerbrandt says that he was inspired to create “Signs and Symptoms” by the 3-D Tom Wesselmann works shown last year at the Denver Art Museum. But underneath that, it’s the influence of British artist Lucien Freud who is the real source for the piece — and for the rest of the works in this interesting show.

Opposite the Gerbrandts is another solo, Dania Pettus: Slow to Draw. The title might suggest that the show is made-up of drawings, but that isn’t the case, at least not strictly speaking. Pettus has written that she’s interested in exploring mark-making so it’s pretty inventive of her that she has chosen to uses forms to stand-in for lines. So, instead of putting pencil to paper, Pettus uses found materials to create abstract three-dimensional collages. Some, like “zip along” are extremely simple being no more than a jumble of blue and black plastic garlands, while others such as “gyre“ are much more complex made from cut-up book pages and other materials.

The style used by Gerbrandt couldn’t be more different than that embraced by Pettus, so the shows don’t flow together like they should. That means you’ll have to shift some aesthetic gears as you go from one to the other.

The shows close on June 20 at Ice Cube, located at 3320 Walnut Street. Call 303-292-1822 or go to  

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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