Art Review

Regina Benson/Dorothy Caldwell

It may seem like there's a new gallery opening in town every day, but it's actually only about one ribbon-cutting per week. One of the latest to open its doors is Translations Gallery (773 Santa Fe Drive, 303-629-0713), which specializes in contemporary textiles. This makes Translations unusual in Denver -- and most other places, as well -- because textile specialists are few and far between.

Judy Hagler, owner of Translations, feels that times are right for the concept, as she believes the fall opening of the Denver Art Museum's Hamilton Building will help spark a cultural awakening in town. So she found a spot on Santa Fe among so many other galleries and took the plunge. Hagler herself is a practicing textile artist -- and a proselytizer for the medium. She wants to introduce textile art to the broader contemporary-art world, which is dominated by paintings, sculpture and photography. That goal is the reason she called the gallery "Translations" -- and she sees herself as the interpreter.

The inaugural exhibition, hung in the entry and part of the main exhibition space, is the duet Regina Benson/Dorothy Caldwell. Both women are widely known textile artists, with Benson living here in Colorado and Caldwell living in Canada. Benson's work is highly experimental, and several of her pieces in this show curve or undulate off the wall. In many, she took fine silk fabric and stained it with rusted objects and other unlikely color transfers. She then stitched on organic shapes done in earth-toned threads. An example of her earlier pictorial work, "Second Sun" (above), is hung in the Statements Gallery toward the back. Caldwell is equally experimental, using found fabrics to construct charming geometric abstractions.

There are some problems with the show: It doesn't have a distinct presence, and the space in which it is presented is ill-defined. The exhibit simply peters out at the end, melting away into a group display that fills out the rest of the space. Hagler can fix this in the future by setting aside a specifically dedicated space for rotating exhibits and keeping everything else out of there.

Regina Benson/Dorothy Caldwell runs through August 31 at Translations Gallery.

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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