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Review: Tracy and Sushe Felix Share Land Rhythms at Havu

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Since the late ’80s, husband-and-wife artists Tracy Felix and Sushe Felix, who share Land Rhythms at William Havu Gallery, have followed different, if thoroughly intertwined, aesthetic paths. For many years, they’ve both been interested in conveying the Western landscape in non-traditional ways, though their individual works are clearly distinct. Tracy’s paintings are lyrical, with lots of curving and swooping lines; his signature style refers back to transcendental sources from early-twentieth-century art in Colorado and New Mexico. Sushe, on the other hand, clearly looks to the hard-edged forms of cubo-regionalism that originated during that same period and in those same places.

As a nod to their differences, Tracy and Sushe have been given separate sections of the main floor at Havu, so that each is presenting what is essentially a solo. Land Rhythms begins with the Tracy section, which is dominated by large paintings of mountains under turgid clouds. There is a cartoonish quality to his paintings, and he has half-jokingly cited Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park as a source of inspiration — but there are many other artists who have done modernist depictions of the Western landscape that are idiosyncratically conventionalized and simplified. His trees are triangles, his mountains interlocking blobs, and his clouds solid volumes ranging from linear whiplashes to cylindrical mushroom caps.

The Sushe section wraps around Tracy’s, in the spaces behind and adjacent to those featuring his work. There are a number of major paintings comparable in size to Tracy’s, but there are also many smaller pieces, including works on paper. A good example of Sushe’s hard-edged approach is “Planes, Trains & Automobiles,” a geometric city coming to life at dawn, with a sawtooth mountain range rising behind it. Interestingly, she juxtaposes the predominating rectilinear and triangular shapes of the city and mountains, respectively, with circular and spherical forms at the top representing clouds and at the bottom conveying plants. In addition to this large painting, Sushe has also done a small drawing of the same subject that hangs next to it, one of a number of such pairings in the show.

Up on the mezzanine, Havu participates in Mo’Print — the Month of Printmaking — by presenting the small, eponymous solo Mark Lunning, showcasing this Denver artist’s recent etchings. Lunning, the key force behind Mo’Print and the master printer at Denver’s Open Press, displays his virtuosity in these multi-panel abstract prints adorned with chine-collé and watercolors.
Land Rhythms and Mark Lunning run through April 23 at Havu, 1040 Cherokee Street. Call 303-893-2360 or go to williamhavugallery.com for more details.

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