Review: Red@Rule: Love and War Continues a Tradition Started by Robin Rule

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The resurrected Rule Gallery in the Hinterland space in RiNo is presenting Red@Rule: Love and War,  in which nearly all the pieces prominently feature the color red. In mounting a show based on red, the new Rule is taking a page from the old Rule's exhibition playbook.

Back in 1996, the late Robin Rule struck on the idea of using the color red as an underlying theme as well as the unifying element for a group exhibit. The concept was kind of brilliant, because regardless of the stylistic attributes of the individual pieces, everything invariably works together when all the works incorporate red. She revisited this idea again and again between 1996 and 2010 (she passed away in 2014), and the current Red@Rule represents a pointed revival of that tradition.

I always thought that Robin Rule had come up with the idea as a way of shaking up standard views at the time. Back in the very bland ‘90s, when the palette of interiors ranged from ivory to beige, bold colors like red were decidedly out. This created a problem for Rule since her premier artist, the late Dale Chisman, loved to use red, and she wanted to place his paintings in as many of those neutral interiors as she possibly could. The red shows were Rule’s way of proving to everyone that red was very cool.

Sadly, the current Red@Rule has no Chisman — his estate is represented by Robischon Gallery — but there is one from the secondary market hanging in the rough-hewn anteroom that serves as Rule’s entryway, so his presence is still felt. The first thing you notice when you enter the show is Scott Young’s “true love” — and not just because it’s placed in the middle of the floor. The striking piece rises more than six feet, and is comprised of a rectangular skeletal metal stand on top of which is a vitrine constructed of clear acrylic sheets. The vitrine has been partly filled with red and yellow drug capsules; rising out of the capsules is neon cursive writing. The entire piece has been meticulously constructed and conceived.

Young is an emerging artist but many others in Red@Rule are veterans of the art world. A painter long associated with Rule is Margaret Neumann, represented here by “Cherries,” a large and moody oil composition of cherries set on a black-ish field. Though the effect of the dark red against the even darker ground is pretty somber, “Cherries” is more lighthearted than Neumann's usual work.
Linda Herritt and Barbara Takenaga, a well-established artist who previously lived in Colorado but is now based in New York, contribues several pieces. “Simple Subtraction: Zero,” made of felt, fringe, burlap and yarn applied directly to the wall, spells out the word “zero” upside down and split in two. It dates back a few years and relates slightly to the kind of work she was known for when she lived here a decade ago: installations of draperies. Not so Herritt's recent collages on paper, even if they do incorporate a little fabric; in these collages, Herritt creates abstracts with cartoon-ish constructivist compositions.

With "Falling," Barbara Takenago, another former Colorado artist now living in New York,  shares one of her signature, all-over abstractions, in which arching lines are done in white on black with red as the accent shade.

One last artist in Red@Rule who shouldn't be overlooked is Denver-based Wilma Fiori. She hasn’t exhibited in years, so it’s great to see her pieces out under the track lights again here.  Fiori’s almost completely red paintings are utterly spare, beautifully composed and expertly carried out.

Red@Rule runs though March 19 at Rule, 3254 Walnut Street. For more information call 303-800-6776 or go to rulegallery.com.

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