Best curatorial gesture linking Colorado with the outside world

Ron Otsuka's Takashi Nakazato

In recent years, the Denver Art Museum has been under the gun to present more Colorado art. Now, honestly, no one -- not even the DAM's shrillest critics -- would expect Ron Otsuka, the accomplished curator of Oriental art, to feel the need to respond. Oriental art is associated with the Far East, whereas Colorado is Out West. But Otsuka's something of a treasure, with crackerjack creativity tied to a seasoned connoisseur's eye, and he actually accomplished the seemingly impossible -- and made it look easy. He organized an Oriental show about Colorado. The gorgeous Takashi Nakazato exhibit, still open on the fifth floor of the DAM, features the ceramic art of that famous Japanese potter, all of it made in Snowmass Village's Anderson Ranch Arts Center, where Nakazato has been a visiting artist once a year for nearly a decade. Otsuka's deft exhibit was an East-meets-West stroke of genius.
In her self-titled exhibit this past winter, Boulder artist Gail Wagner turned the front room at Edge Gallery into a world of her own. The mostly wall-hung installation pieces were made of woven fibers that had been stiffened with paint, suggesting undersea plants and animals -- but only vaguely. One of Wagner's real strengths is as a colorist, brilliantly orchestrating contrasting shades such as a mossy green used with a burnt orange. Also adding visual interest were the novelty plastic fruits and vegetables that she attached to some of her sculptures. Her work is carefully made, with interesting forms and enticing colors and handsome installation and lighting. Come to think of it, that's not so easy.

In her self-titled exhibit this past winter, Boulder artist Gail Wagner turned the front room at Edge Gallery into a world of her own. The mostly wall-hung installation pieces were made of woven fibers that had been stiffened with paint, suggesting undersea plants and animals -- but only vaguely. One of Wagner's real strengths is as a colorist, brilliantly orchestrating contrasting shades such as a mossy green used with a burnt orange. Also adding visual interest were the novelty plastic fruits and vegetables that she attached to some of her sculptures. Her work is carefully made, with interesting forms and enticing colors and handsome installation and lighting. Come to think of it, that's not so easy.

Freelance curator Sean Hughes was thinking about the local art scene and noticed that many artists were making careers from creating installations. So he made a list of his favorites and built a show around them. Western Vernacular: Colorado Installation filled the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver for nearly all of last fall. The show included ambitious pieces by the likes of Chuck Parson, Jeff Richards, John McEnroe, David Brady, Linda Herritt and Elizabeth Faulhaber. Hughes's was not only the best group show devoted to installation last year, it was the best show at MoCAD in all of 1999.

Freelance curator Sean Hughes was thinking about the local art scene and noticed that many artists were making careers from creating installations. So he made a list of his favorites and built a show around them. Western Vernacular: Colorado Installation filled the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver for nearly all of last fall. The show included ambitious pieces by the likes of Chuck Parson, Jeff Richards, John McEnroe, David Brady, Linda Herritt and Elizabeth Faulhaber. Hughes's was not only the best group show devoted to installation last year, it was the best show at MoCAD in all of 1999.

In a way, Sketchbook was a mid-career survey of a still relatively young artist, William Stockman, who came on strong in the mid-1990s as one of a group of artists who revitalized the Pirate co-op. Almost immediately, it was onward and upward, with Stockman getting a piece into the Denver Art Museum's collection -- no mean feat for a then-emerging local -- and bouncing around between some of the city's top commercial galleries, most recently landing at Ron Judish Fine Arts, which hosted Sketchbook. The show explored the all-sizes-fit-one range of Stockman's drawings, which are distinct in style from his equally distinguished paintings. The show included small, intimate sketches, larger-presentation drawings, oversized drawings and even one mammoth drawing applied directly to the wall in the manner of a mural. They all sported enigmatic narrative content and hand-scrawled text coming together to literally shade our understanding of Stockman's vision.

Readers' choice: Aaron Alden at Kung Fu Kitchen

In a way, Sketchbook was a mid-career survey of a still relatively young artist, William Stockman, who came on strong in the mid-1990s as one of a group of artists who revitalized the Pirate co-op. Almost immediately, it was onward and upward, with Stockman getting a piece into the Denver Art Museum's collection -- no mean feat for a then-emerging local -- and bouncing around between some of the city's top commercial galleries, most recently landing at Ron Judish Fine Arts, which hosted Sketchbook. The show explored the all-sizes-fit-one range of Stockman's drawings, which are distinct in style from his equally distinguished paintings. The show included small, intimate sketches, larger-presentation drawings, oversized drawings and even one mammoth drawing applied directly to the wall in the manner of a mural. They all sported enigmatic narrative content and hand-scrawled text coming together to literally shade our understanding of Stockman's vision.

Readers' choice: Aaron Alden at Kung Fu Kitchen

IMAX at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Last December, the newly renamed Denver Museum of Nature and Science in City Park updated its 441-seat IMAX theater with a 15,000-watt (up from 8,500) digital sound system featuring six-track reproduction and -- count 'em -- 58 giant speakers. The sonic effect is rather like taking a front-row seat at the Battle of Verdun. There's also a brand-new screen -- four and a half stories tall, six and a half stories wide -- manufactured by the British firm Harkness. So if you're in the mood for a gigantic view of Dolphins, or some eye- and ear-popping Adventures in Wild California, or a trip to Cirque de Soleil: Journey of Man, IMAX is the place to be. All three films, shot in oversized 70 millimeter, are currently on view, a total of 35 times per week.
Last December, the newly renamed Denver Museum of Nature and Science in City Park updated its 441-seat IMAX theater with a 15,000-watt (up from 8,500) digital sound system featuring six-track reproduction and -- count 'em -- 58 giant speakers. The sonic effect is rather like taking a front-row seat at the Battle of Verdun. There's also a brand-new screen -- four and a half stories tall, six and a half stories wide -- manufactured by the British firm Harkness. So if you're in the mood for a gigantic view of Dolphins, or some eye- and ear-popping Adventures in Wild California, or a trip to Cirque de Soleil: Journey of Man, IMAX is the place to be. All three films, shot in oversized 70 millimeter, are currently on view, a total of 35 times per week.
Last summer, art history of the recent past came alive when the first-generation members of Spark Gallery, Denver's oldest artists' co-op, were brought together in the fabulous Twentieth Anniversary Celebration exhibit. Back in 1980, these aging hippies -- among them Andy Libertone and Paul Gillis (the official founders of the group), Clark Richert, Margaret Neumann, George Woodman, Marilyn Duke and John Fudge (who died late last summer) -- were already key figures in the local art scene. All played a significant role in the development of contemporary art in Colorado, and many still do, as does their still-thriving co-op (though none of the originals have remained involved with the group). For the twentieth-anniversary show, these artistic communards each brought out an old piece and paired it with a new one, for an intriguing glimpse of Denver then and now.

Readers' choice: Kung Fu Kitchen

Best Of Denver®

Best Of