Art Review

Two Worlds

Monica Petty Aiello and her husband, Tyler, are well-known fixtures in Denver's contemporary art world because they run Studio Aiello, the largest commercial art gallery in the region for the time being. I say "for the time being" because come the first of the year, the Aiellos will cut back severely on the space devoted to art exhibitions, instead converting most of their gallery into artist studios.

Though less well-known as such, the Aiellos are also fine artists, as showcased in TWO WORLDS, currently on view at Space Gallery (765 Santa Fe Drive, 720-904-1088). The show's title refers to the fact that Monica is a painter while Tyler does sculpture -- two different worlds.

Monica's color-field abstractions are essentially monochromes in vibrant shades, done in acrylic, ink, fiber and gel on panel. She uses the fibers, or threads, to create the elaborate, delicate "drawn" panel designs, which are organic abstractions -- or scribbles, if had they been done in ink. The threads are then embedded into the paintings with gleaming layers of clear gel that give the piece a high gloss. These works are done in various sizes and shapes, from small squares to monumental rectangles. Perhaps because they are so simple in visual effect and color, the big ones, such as "Odyssey 19 (Pele's Fury)," shown in the background above, work better.

Tyler creates hand-forged steel sculptures, many of which have the shape of pierced spheres, such as "Sphere #7," shown in the foreground above. Using the repoussé technique, he hammers circles of steel into flattened domed shapes. The surfaces of these shapes preserve the action of his hammer with round indentations on the metal. Using tiny handmade brackets, he joins the little steel circles together to make the form of the large sphere. The metal is finished naturalistically, with some pieces being dull gray and others silvery.

TWO WORLDS is definitely worth seeing before it closes on October 1 at Space.

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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