Art Review

The Man Show at Walker Fine Art

Bobbi Walker, the owner and gallery director of Walker Fine Art (300 West 11th Avenue, #A, 303-355-8955), typically has one show in the front of her space featuring two or three participants, then fills the back with the work of artists from her stable. But with The Man Show, both spaces are part of the same offering, and they flow together seamlessly. The name is taken from the title of a humorous book, and not because all the participants are men — although there's nothing too unusual about that.

In the front are paintings by Frank O'Neill, a Denver artist who does oddly stilted representational paintings with edgy narratives that concern his own life. For example, in "Mom and Dad" (pictured), which he worked on for decades, an elderly couple stare straight out at the viewer but are actually watching television; the back of the set is visible in the foreground. Another group of O'Neill pieces concerns his ex-wife, who is depicted in some as a nutcracker, believe it or not.

O'Neill has been paired with Jonathan Hils, a sculptor from Norman, Oklahoma, whose work is also in the front. His specialty is the creation of large forms made of welded metal mesh; the resulting work is simultaneously airy and monumental, which is quite a formal balancing act, if you ask me.

In the back space is the work of three artists: John Murphy, from Carbondale, who does metal wall sculptures; Abel Ventosa, of Buenos Aires, Argentina, who creates bas-relief sculptures made of plastic: and Denver's Roland Bernier, best known for his works made up of words. These recent Berniers are unexpected, like the two small horse sculptures covered with text passages on paper. This same approach is seen in the "Entertainment" installation, in which Bernier has covered various figurines of animals, a table and a chair with white paper filled with black text.

The Man Show is unusual and interesting. It stays up through January 3, but the gallery will be closed between Christmas and New Year's Day.

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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