Art Review

Review: Chuck Parson Builds Momentum With a Huge Show at Z Art Department

Chuck Parson: Still and Centered Point Z Art Department 1136 Speer Boulevard

Chuck Parson, who helped pioneer the conceptual abstraction movement around here forty years ago, is the subject of a major outing at Z Art Department called Still and Centered Point. The exhibit includes more than sixty installations, sculptures and drawings, most of which feature three-dimensional elements.

See also: Our Vulnerable Western Landscape Stars in Two Solo Shows at Robischon

The main thrust of the show appears to be table-sized sculptures, however, based on the depth in which they are seen. These compelling little works all display a single coherent idea that Parson has reinterpreted over and over again in a range of manifestations and with a variety of materials.

The basic vocabulary of these tremendous works is a spire mounted vertically in the dead center on top of a constructivist arrangement of flat forms made out of sheets of metal, glass and acrylic in some combination. Parson created these constructivist compositions at the base of each sculpture by alternating the horizontally-oriented planes of different materials, and by altering their size of the planes.

Everything is held off a central spine so that the planes cantilever over one another, making the empty space between them into a part of the sculpture. In a number of these works, Parson has used stone drill cores as the spire element; the contrast between the cylinder of natural stone and the high-tech character of the elements that surround it works beautifully.

The exhibit also includes two monumental works from Parson's "Still and Centered Point" series, from which the show takes its title. In these works, Parson builds towers to the ceiling -- with bases covering large areas of the floor -- by stacking up rectangular forms, beams and plates, and interspersing them with flat circular ones; these elements are made of either metal or Plexiglas. As he usually does, Parson expresses those places where the separate parts are joined or connected, making them key parts of the compositions through the use of eye-catching shiny polished screws and bolts.

The overall shape of both of these monumental works is strictly symmetrical, as is much of his work, and each are topped off by spikes.

The drawings of which there are many, reveal the way that representational images allow Parson to show off his traditional skill as a draftsman. Though most are extensions of his sculptures, in some, he achieves an almost photographic likeness of the Western landscape. This bow to tradition may be surprising to some since it's an art world away from his signature style. Yet, it's the kind of thing that's engaged him for years.

The current fall season definitely belongs to Parson as he's the subject of not one, not two, but three shows all lined up in a row. In two of them -- the soon to open one at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and the one set for later this fall at Mai Wyn Fine Art -- he'll be showing alongside his son, Collin Parson.

Still and Centered Point closes November 7 at Z Art Department, 1136 Speer Boulevard. For hours and other information call 303-298-8432 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