Art Review

Review: Three Solos Add Up at Spark Gallery

"Our Five Senses," by Sue Simon, acrylic on panels.
"Our Five Senses," by Sue Simon, acrylic on panels. courtesy of the artist
Spark Gallery, the city’s oldest artists’ co-op, usually fills the three discrete areas in its intimate space with a trio of heterogenous solos that often don’t jibe together. That’s the nature of co-ops, with each artist doing his or her own thing. But this time there’s a sense of harmoniousness, since the three featured artists are all looking at a real subject from the perspective of its intangible qualities or characteristics.

In Sue Simon’s Awareness, a solo installed in the west gallery, the underlying idea is translating consciousness into an abstract visual language. Setting the tone is a five-panel set of paintings collectively titled “Our Five Senses,” with individual panels dedicated to “taste,” “smell,” “sight,” “hearing” and “touch.” As in her signature approach, Simon nods to science here, but the notations, symbols and equations struck me as being more recessive than usual. In contrast, the painting “Indecision (General Uncertainty Principle)” is scientific content writ large, with an oversized equation running sideways up the center; toward the bottom on the right, Simon has pushed out a square panel that violates the rectangular shape of the painting.

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"Mirror of the Kami" detail, by Madeleine Dodge, mixed materials.
Marcia Ward/The Image Maker
The seriousness continues in the east gallery with Madeleine Dodge’s Burial Practices. Dodge’s mother died relatively recently, and she’s exploring the life cycle of birth to death and beyond, expanding the topic to include not just the ground, but the sky. One of the standout pieces is “Indra’s Net,” a large blue field covered in white lines; Dodge created it by tiling sheets of carbon paper across the panel, then removing them once the ink had been transferred to the painting’s surface.

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Installation view of Aleppo, by Angela Larson, encaustic on panels.
Courtesy of the artist
The north gallery at Spark is reserved for guest artists invited by the members; Simon and Dodge brought in Angela Larson and Aleppo, a series of encaustic paintings. The earth-toned pieces, composed of squares arranged in stripes and bars, were inspired by an ancient and now lost mosaic floor in the war-ravaged Syrian city of Aleppo. Though here they’ve been installed as separate panels wrapping around the narrow room, they actually fit together horizontally to convey the entire pattern of the lost floor.

The three solos at Spark, 900 Santa Fe Drive, run through December 3; go to sparkgallery.com or call 720-889-2200 for details.
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“Indecision (General Uncertainty Principle),” by Sue Simon, acrylic on panel.
Courtesy of the artist

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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