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Review: Space Gallery Expands on Women's Art With Expanding the Dialogue

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Space Gallery director Michael Burnett is contributing to the current women’s art craze here in Denver by mounting the elegant group show Expanding the Dialogue: Part One. At a time when some Denver galleries have only a handful of women in their stable, female artists account for fully half the roster at Space. And more than any other gallery in town, Burnett’s Space has focused on contemporary abstraction — which is what’s on tap in this impressive presentation.

The exhibition not only occupies the main level of the gallery, but extends up to the mezzanine, as well. It’s been designed so that each of the seven artists included — six of whom live and work in Colorado — has her own clearly defined section. This allows Expanding the Dialogue to function not just as a group show, but also as a set of coherently interconnected solos.

In the entry space, Jane Guthridge is represented by a baker’s dozen of her recent pieces. Many, like those from her “Pools of Light” series, involve layering abstractly pierced Dura-lar sheets over inkjet and encaustic color fields. Around the corner is a selection of Taiko Chandler’s monotypes, some of which are presented traditionally, in frames, while others have been used as elements in installations. The three enormous, free-hanging panels and the complex, wall-mounted bas-relief individually represent remarkable technical achievements, especially considering that the elaborate cutting was done not via computer, but completely by Chandler’s hand. The entire east wall is given over to oil-and-graphite paintings on canvas by Carlene Frances, whose automatist — and mostly monochrome — compositions strike a compromise between abstract expressionism and graffiti. The more modestly sized south wall features five of Tonia Bonnell’s signature drawings, which comprise tiny, if numerous, graphite marks on large sheets of vellum.

Upstairs is the work of three artists: Sophia Dixon Dillo, Wendy Kowynia and Nancy Koenigsberg. Near two types of Dillo’s minimalist light boxes hangs a range of Kowynia’s woven works, which enlist their warps and wefts as expressive grids, their only compositional devices. The most out-there works are the copper-wire structures by Koenigsberg, a New Yorker who’s the only non-Colorado artist in the show. Koenigsberg roughly defines squares of twisted wire to make wall panels reminiscent of drawings; the wire stands in for scribbled lines.
Expanding the Dialogue: Part One runs through October 1 at Space Gallery, 400 Santa Fe Drive. For additional information, call 720-904-1088 or go to spacegallery.org.

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