Art Review

Roland Bernier, Patricia Aaron and John Alberty at Spark

More than any of the other co-ops in town, Spark Gallery (900 Santa Fe Drive, 720-889-2000, has a membership dominated by established artists. And that makes sense when you remember that it's the city's oldest art venue of its type.

Among the current offerings is a case in point: Vinyl, a solo dedicated to Roland Bernier, the master of Denver conceptualism. The show is a continuation of the artist's interest in using words as his subjects. He has covered most of the walls in the east and west galleries with enormous letters, some spelling out the show's title, while others depict the word "cardboard." For each, Bernier uses the named material to make the words. Having done this kind of thing for years, he has seemingly found an inexhaustible supply of inspiration in the dictionary.

Bernier has been paired in the tandem spaces with Patricia Aaron's Viewpoints. In these works, she has created lyrical abstracts purportedly based on her travels but containing no direct references to any particular place. A number are done in encaustics, a few with palladium accents; some of the encaustics have been digitized, as in "Love Life" (pictured), where those images have then been combined to form a new composition. "Love Life" is done on paper laid on board, but Aaron has also printed digitized images directly onto transparent acrylic sheets.

Finishing off the attractions at Spark is Investigations in Philosophical Grammar, featuring wall installations by John Alberty. These beautifully crafted pieces are made of sheets of brass pierced by writing and images. There is a clear ideological connection between these Albertys and the Berniers; in fact, Alberty and Bernier are friends, and there's even an Alberty piece that's about Bernier. Aesthetically, however, the two artists are as different as night and day, with Alberty doing work that's highly finished while the Berniers are completely informal in their execution.

You could do far worse than taking the time to see what Bernier, Aaron and Alberty have been up to, and you've got until November 15 to do it.

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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

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