The Best Art Shows for April's First Friday in Denver | Westword

First Friday in April: Solar Signs Lights Up Denver and Gallery Shows Bloom Everywhere

From narrative paintings at Alto to happenings at the Museo, here are the best art activities this weekend.
See Jack Avila's abstract style at Alto Gallery.
See Jack Avila's abstract style at Alto Gallery. Jack Avila, Alto Gallery

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It’s a rich First Friday weekend for indie galleries, with a wide cross-section of art, plus a sun-powered spectacle and happening brought to town by the internationally known team of Beatie Wolfe and Aaron Rose. What more can you do but head out to wander and wonder at it all?

Here’s a First Friday lineup to die for:
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Visionary creatives Beatie Wolfe and Aaron Rose bring Solar Signs to Denver for the solar eclipse.
Denver theatre District
Beatie Wolfe and Aaron Rose, Solar Signs
Solar Signs Denver Takeover: Night Lights Denver, Daniels & Fisher Tower, 1601 Arapahoe Street, nightly through April 30, 7:45 to 11:55 p.m.
Solar Signs Exhibition: Understudy, 890 C 14th Street, daily, Friday, April 5, through May 12
Exhibition Opening Celebration: Friday, April 5, 6 p.m.
Solar Signs Eclipse Project: Monday, April 8, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tivoli Quad, Auraria Campus
Beatie Wolfe and Aaron Rose juggle countless disciplines between them, with the ability to create events across a spectrum of music, fine art, multimedia, writing, filmmaking, science, technology, research — and no doubt more. Aside from what they've accomplished together, Wolfe has worked with Brian Eno, Mark Mothersbaugh, Allee Willis and producer Linda Perry, while Rose has collaborated with directors Mike Mills, Spike Jonze and Harmony Korine, as well as artists Barry McGee, Margaret Kilgallen, Steven "Espo" Powers, Chris Johanson, Harmony Korine and Shepard Fairey.

The visionary duo is bringing the spectacle Solar Signs to Denver this week and next, where the solar eclipse-related happening will occur in various downtown Denver locales. The intermedia display of shadow poetry and sun prints, driven by solar power using cutout letters of a unique font, has already begun its month-long program through the Night Lights Denver video-projection evenings at the Daniels & Fisher Clocktower, while an ongoing exhibition debuts Friday, April 5, at the Understudy art incubator. The final puzzle piece, the Solar Signs Eclipse Project, happens on eclipse day at the Auraria campus, where eclipse glasses will be available (while they last) to view Denver’s portion of the spectacle.

Open Wall
Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMoCA), 1750 13th Street, Boulder
Opening Night Party: Friday, April 5, 6 to 9 p.m.
Exhibition and Sale continues: Saturday, April 6, and Sunday, April 7, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily

Open Wall comes to BMoCA every spring hand in hand with Boulder Arts Week, which showcases the variety of Boulder’s cultural world and offers incentives to try things out. Open Wall offers a chance for artists of all skill levels to hang a piece in a widely seen exhibition over one weekend as well as art deals for people looking to buy a work or two. The extra perk is where the money goes: Partial proceeds benefit the museum’s education and exhibition programming. Have fun, buy art and enjoy refreshments on opening night, or spend some extra browsing time during regular hours on Saturday or Sunday.
April Werle, “…but you’re white too!,” 2024, acrylic and stain on wood panel.
April Werle, Bell Projects
April Werle: Secret Life of a Multicultural Couple
Bell Projects, 2822 East 17th Avenue
Friday, April 5, through April 28
Opening Reception: Friday, April 5, 6 to 10 p.m. (Artist talk, 7 p.m.)
In Secret Life of a Multicultural Couple at Bell Projects, artist April Werle addresses traditions of her Filipino heritage, negotiating a mixed-race relationship and her love for drawing hands, which happen to be a family heirloom of sorts, inherited from her grandmother and mother, who shared similar lovely hands. Witty titles, well-wrought but bodiless appendages and symbolic situations combine on wood panels in a comedy of manners, forming a good primer on accepting differences. Bell Projects is open Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m., or by appointment.
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An abstract assemblage by Jack Avila.
Jack Avila, Alto Gallery
Jack Avila, Make Shift
Alto Gallery, 1900 35th Street
Friday, April 5, through April 27
Opening Reception: April 5, 6 to 10 p.m.
Jack Avila returns to Alto Gallery with a solo show of automatist abstract or narrative paintings, collages and assemblages comprising color, shapes and textures into tight and lively compositions. Count on this exhibition to be easy on the eyes and derived from underground culture.
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Alexander Richard Wilson, “Lonely Denver Dog Walkers at night, with spectators,” Flashe and acrylic on a stretched bedsheet.
Alexander Richard Wilson, Dateline Gallery
Alexander Richard Wilson: Nightwalks
Dateline Gallery, 3004 Larimer Street
Opening Reception: Friday, April 5, 6 to 10 p.m.
It’s a jungle out there if you ask Alexander Richard Wilson, an artist in constant motion with a wide, gestural and painterly brush. The paintings in Nightwalks at Dateline Gallery show an urban world grown wild after dark, as people walk the streets with dogs and spring fever under polluted skies, executing everyday activities as the specter of climate change looms in the stormy background.
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Nicole Evanston, "Untitled (Taj Mahal)," ink, colored pencil and marker on paper.
Nicole Evanston, Access Gallery
Nicole Vanston, Dragon and Dinosaur Utopia
Angel, Crimson Dragon Language

Access Gallery, 909 Santa Fe Drive
Friday, April 5, through May 25
Opening Reception: Friday, April 5, 6 to 9 p.m.
Meet the Artists/Artist Talk: Friday, April 19, 6 to 8 p.m.
Two longtime Access disabled artists — Nicole Vanston and Angel — celebrate the Year of the Dragon with original art channeling dragons and fantasies. Angel’s works utilize ink, colored pencil and marker on paper to document eight dragon languages the artist devised, including unique characters and translation methods, while Vanston’s trademark dragons festoon paintings, fiber works and even walking sticks. The show is a lead-in to Access’s May Dragon Dinner fundraiser; find more information and tickets ($60) at Eventbrite.
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Lamps sporting sculptural ceramic bases by William Lueck.
Courtesy Urban Mud
The Light Show
Urban Mud, 530 Santa Fe Drive
Friday, April 5, through December 23
Opening Reception: Friday, April 5, 5 to 8 p.m.
Urban Mud shines for The Light Show, a showcase of handsome and functional ceramic lamps by the clay studio’s members. The works were created using various tried-and-true methods of shaping clay into sculptural lamp bases, from hand-built to wheel-thrown.
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Danielle Ramos of CHAC Gallery channels pre-Columbian Mesoamerican imagery.
Danielle Ramos, CHAC Gallery
CHAC Gallery 40 West, 7060 West 16th Avenue, Lakewood
Friday, April 5, through April 27
Opening Reception: Friday, April 5, 5 to 9 p.m.
CHAC members celebrate spring alongside featured artist Danielle Ramos, who favors imagery derived from pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, painted in a fitting color palette for the season. The opening reception for Primavera — really a party for the season of renewal — will include live music, vendors and a make-and-take family workshop at 6 p.m. on the Mexican tradition of flores de papel (or tissue paper flowers). If you miss the reception — and because CHAC always has something else going on — come on Saturday, April 6, between 1 and 3 p.m. for Poetry and Posole, a free National Poetry Month open mic led by Elena Guerrero-Townsend, as well as the art show; RSVP here.
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Corrina Espinosa brings her poetry-blending machine to the Museo for a First Friday Dia del Niño activity.
Courtesy Corrina Espinosa
First Friday/Dia del Niño
Museo de las Americas, 861 Santa Fe Drive
Friday, April 5, 5 to 9 p.m.
The Museo’s monthly Cultural First Friday event in April is not only another opportunity to see the new exhibition Espíritu Hermosx but also a Dia del Niño (Day of the Child) festivity with artist vendors and other activities. From 6 to 8 p.m., artist Corrina Espinosa will be spinning poetic phrases in her poetry-blending machine to help families form their own surreal poems to take home, and food truck La Cuchara de Merce will also be serving Latin eats on the street throughout the celebration

A Reminder: ADSF Emerging Artists Residency Class Show
Art District on Santa Fe Studios, 858 Santa Fe Drive
Friday, April 5, through June
Opening Reception: Friday, April 5, 5:30 to 9 p.m.
The Art District on Santa Fe unveils work by the organization’s latest batch of Emerging Artist Residents for First Friday. Amanda Snyder, Holly Nordeck and Tan Boe are a multidisciplinary trio who’ve been making art for the last three months at the ADSF Studio and Headquarters. Find a complete listing of this and other gallery openings in the district here.
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Tim McKay, “What Just Happened?,” 2021, acrylic on canvas.
Tim McKay
Tim McKay, Vibes
Artists on Santa Fe, 747 Santa Fe Drive
Thursday, April 4, through April 28
First Friday Reception: April 5, 6 to 9 p.m.
Artist Tim McKay escapes the eternal grid for Vibes, a show that includes works from his Santa Monica series, which recalls summers at the ocean with stylistic color fields and representational images that have been missing from his paintings for more than ten years. But for fans of his better-known geometric and hard-edge abstract canvases in contrasting colors, no worries — there will be some of those, too.
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Allyson McDuffie, “Jesus Ain't Got Nothin' on This Chicken.”
Courtesy Allyson McDuffie
Allyson McDuffie, Tasty
Kin Studio Gallery, 4725 16th Street #104, Boulder
Friday, April 5, through May 20
Opening Reception: Friday, April 5, 5 to 8 p.m.

Boulderite Allyson McDuffie introduces their new Kin Studio Gallery in North Boulder, where the artist will be working and presenting exhibitions of personal artworks and those of others. The grand-opening show, Tasty, is a perfect representation of McDuffie’s style, a mashup of memory, queer identity, societal norms, place and resilience rendered in mixed-media prints with a spot of wry humor. Follow the gallery at the link above or at @allycatstudioart on Instagram.
Raymundo Muñoz, “Remain,” 2023, linocut relief print.
Courtesy Raymundo Muñoz
Raymundo Muñoz, Overwhelming Nature
Leon Gallery, 1112 East 17th Avenue
Saturday, April 6, through May 18
Opening Reception: Saturday, April 6, 6 to 10 p.m.
Artist Talk: Sunday, April 28, 2 p.m.
In this well-deserved late Mo’Print offering, multi-disciplinary artist Raymundo Muñoz follows in the footsteps of vintage illustrators, printmakers and even comic artists to represent the impenetrable murk of the wild natural landscape — right down to the bark on the trees — with heavily lined and patterned black-and-white prints. Just go, stand back and look.

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