Art Review

Review: Pots, Pastels and Paper at Spark Gallery

Installation view of Mary Mackey: Read Between the Lines.
Installation view of Mary Mackey: Read Between the Lines. R. F. Delaney
Two veterans of the local arts scene are joined by a newcomer in a trio of compatible solos at Spark Gallery.

In the west gallery, longtime Denver artist Mary Mackey shows collages, mixed-media paintings, prints and, surprisingly, ceramics in Mary Mackey: Read Between the Lines. From the work, it's clear that Mackey has been absorbing and translating the influences of other established Colorado artists, most notably Jeff Wenzel. But she's also referencing Mary Chenoweth, especially in the prints, and Chenoweth’s students, Dale Chisman and Emilio Lobato. And she orchestrates the entire set of interpretations with her own overarching signature sensibility.

In an attenuated horizontal piece, “I’m Lovin’ It,” Mackey has cut up brown paper McDonald’s bags, complete with the Golden Arches logo, and laid them out in a softly constructivist arrangement with delicate scribbled lines on top. Related paintings “Forward Motion” and “Auro Reverse” are much more heavily painted.

The marvelous sculptural vessels in clay are particularly compelling. Mackey has stacked separate forms into totemic piles, then covered hem with bold abstract marks in glazes.

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Installation view of Mark Brasuell: (In) Particulate.
Courtesy of the artist
Mark Brasuell has remade the space in the east gallery, using the movable walls to turn it into something of a maze that viewers must navigate in order to see Mark Brasuell: (In) Particulate. Pinned to the walls are monumental drawings — some of them very monumental — done with pastels formulated and made by Brasuell himself. Though he's been creating enormous drawings for many years, these struck me as different; the saturation of the colors makes them seem like a link between Brasuell's charcoals and his better-known paintings.

Brasuell knows how to attract a viewer's attention: He's placed the largest and most ambitious piece, the mural-sized "Spiralo," right at the start of the show. Gorky-esque circular forms done in lines and bars intersect and overlap one another across the surface; there are bold juxtapositions of contrasting shades, including lots of red with touches of blue, purple and yellow. The other drawings, though smaller, are closely related to “Spiralo,” and all of them have similarly strange-sounding titles.

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Installation view of Exercises, by Zack Zyskowski.
R. F. Delaney
Spark members invite like-minded artists to exhibit in the cramped north gallery; Mackey brought in Zack Zyskowski. His promising show, Exercises, features pieces with all-over scribbled lines and marks.

All three solos run through March 31 at Spark Gallery, 900 Santa Fe Drive. For more information, call 720-889-2200 or go to
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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