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Review: Enjoy the Scenery at William Havu's Survey

"Polygon Window 1," by Lui Ferreyra, oil on canvas.
"Polygon Window 1," by Lui Ferreyra, oil on canvas.
Wes Magyar
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The William Havu Gallery has paired a group show, Survey, that features three painters focused on representing the landscape, with a sculpture solo, Nancy Lovendahl: The Reclamation Suite. Conveying the scenery is an artistic pursuit that doesn’t translate directly into sculpture, but there’s a link because Lovendahl employs rough-hewn chunks of rock in her work, bringing the idea of the landscape into otherwise non-objective pieces.

Survey is a great title for a show of landscape paintings, as the earliest depictions of the American West were commissioned by the federal government and the railroads as part of actual land surveys. The paintings included here are heirs to that tradition not just by virtue of their subjects, but by their compositions as well, with the vistas being presented more or less theatrically, as if on a stage. Even so, these painters aren’t working in traditional styles.

"Spring's Welcome Return," by Jivan Lee, oil on linen.
"Spring's Welcome Return," by Jivan Lee, oil on linen.
Jivan Lee

Lui Ferreyra, who has the first section of the show, is best known for his figural renderings, but he’s done landscapes all along, and these are the strongest I’ve seen. Ferreyra continues to be interested in fracturing his pictures into hard-edged shapes that individually define the separate colors. The colored shapes are part of elaborate overall linear patterns, and the organization of those shapes suggests a cross between digital fractals and cubist planes. Next up is Jivan Lee, who is clearly following in the footsteps of the historic modern artists of Taos, where he lives. Lee, who has one foot in traditional representational art and the other in abstraction, uses expressionist brushwork to convey the high desert scenery near his home. The last of the three painters, Lynn Boggess, likewise conflates traditional rendering and painterly abstraction. In some places, the pigments look like cake icing, laid down in thick flat smears; in others, they’re long, trailing skeins, with moves in between.

"The Guardians," by Nancy Lovendahl, Limestone & mild steel.
"The Guardians," by Nancy Lovendahl, Limestone & mild steel.
Courtesy Havu Gallery

A number of the sculptures in Lovendahl’s The Reclamation Suite take the form of non-functional furniture, with a cut-up piece of rock mounted on a set of twisted steel legs in the manner of a table or cabinet. In “Jewel,” a quarry-cut block of limestone sits on four legs formed out of two bent steel bars; the title refers to the translucent blue acrylic blob that’s mounted on a niche in the limestone.

Both shows are on view through November 11 at Havu, 1040 Cherokee Street. Call 303-893-2360 or go to williamhavugallery.com.

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