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Review: Space Extends the Abstraction Extravaganza with Expanding the Dialogue: Part Two

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This summer, as the start of an abstraction extravaganza, Space Gallery presented Expanding the Dialogue: Part One (which I reviewed September 14), and now Expanding the Dialogue: Part Two is on view. While the first show explored the subtlety of certain approaches, the second takes the opposite tack, looking at the bold end of the continuum. In another significant difference, the initial offering was given over to women artists — to play off Women of Abstract Expressionism at the Denver Art Museum — while the current roster comprises two women and two men.

Space is enormous, which allows director Michael Burnett to put on four simultaneous solos masquerading as a group endeavor. Patricia Aaron’s marvelous encaustic paintings elegantly fill the entry and the north gallery. Her compositions are atmospheric, with blotches, smudges and drips set against modulated fields. A colorist, Aaron prefers cheery tones for her paintings, some of which feature a  predominating shade that make them seem like monochromes even if they are not.
In the main room, there’s an aesthetic shift — though Monroe Hodder uses color as form much as Aaron does. Best known for her abstracts of loosely organized bars, here Hodder introduces a newish approach, with elements instinctually placed across the canvases. A striking passage is the group of six small square panels hung on a wall covered with enlargements of husband Fred Hodder’s views of New York. The whole installation is so busy with details, it’s eye-popping.

Scattered across the floor are three monumental Stephen Shachtman sculptures from his “Monolith” series, with two more on display out on the patio. The formula for all of these works is a rectilinear spire rising ten feet or more, making them very impressive. Near the top of each, Shachtman has included a  circular bowl finished in color, lending them a totemic or even vaguely figural quality.
The last leg of the show is upstairs on the mezzanine, where nearly a dozen large Haze Diedrich paintings have been installed. In these works, Diedrich clusters simple shapes into varied amorphous forms carried out in rich, toned-up shades. Though they mark something of a change from the artist’s signature style, they are also clearly a continuation of his longtime interest in abstraction.

The style of choice at Space has long been abstraction, too. Director Michael Burnett is himself an abstract painter, so it’s no surprise that he was able to put together not just one, but two major shows on the topic using only artists from his stable.

Expanding the Dialogue: Part Two runs through November 12 at Space Gallery, 400 Santa Fe Drive. For more information, call 720-904-1088 or go to spacegallery.org.

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