Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art director Cydney Payton, together with freelance curator and art collector John Woodward, last year presented Vanguard Art in Colorado, a show that revealed a hidden art-historical fact: In Colorado, as in New York at the same time, a post-war generation of painters and sculptors embraced abstract expressionism and created a truly American-style art. Payton and Woodward selected impressive pieces by the likes of Vance Kirkland, Herbert Bayer, Charles Bunnell, Emerson Woelffer, Mary Chenoweth, Al Wynne, Ken Goehring, George Cecil Carter and many others, all borrowed from several private collections and institutions such as the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and the Vance Kirkland Museum. Nothing came out of the Denver Art Museum, since relevant Colorado material once held by that establishment has long since been sold off. But as the DAM snoozes, smaller venues like BMoCA occasionally fill the void. Vanguard Art in Colorado contributed one of the best art exhibits in memory to the local scene.

Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities
The Arvada Center
Kathy Andrews, head curator at the Arvada Center, mounted a huge, history-making exhibit last fall. It was truly a who's who of Colorado art, occupying the entire set of galleries on both floors. On the lower lever, Andrews placed abstract painting and sculpture by the pivotal '70s generation; on the upper floor were artists who emerged in the '80s or '90s. Impressive work by old-timers could be spotted even from the parking lot, where outdoor sculptures by Jerry Wingren, Chuck Parson and Bob Mangold had been installed. And inside, just beyond the center's main entrance, were more pieces by such Colorado modern masters as Andy Libertone, Dale Chisman, Joe Clower, Virginia Maitland, Bill Hayes, Gene Matthews, Elaine Colzolari, Clark Richert, David Yust and Stan Meyer. Andrews placed the younger generation at the top of the grand staircase; notable inclusions there were Homare Ikeda, Steven Altman, Ania Gola-Kumor, Trine Bumiller, Jeff Wenzel, John Clark, Bill Brazzell, Melanie Hoshiko, Bruce Price, Carl Reed, Scott Chamberlin and Jeffrey Keith (who felt he belonged downstairs with the mentor group). Despite Keith's complaint -- and the grousing of those who pointed out that key players like Emilio Lobato, who lives in Arvada, had been left out -- Andrews put together one of the best art shows of last year, in the process enhancing our understanding of the development of contemporary art in the region over the last 25 years.

Kathy Andrews, head curator at the Arvada Center, mounted a huge, history-making exhibit last fall. It was truly a who's who of Colorado art, occupying the entire set of galleries on both floors. On the lower lever, Andrews placed abstract painting and sculpture by the pivotal '70s generation; on the upper floor were artists who emerged in the '80s or '90s. Impressive work by old-timers could be spotted even from the parking lot, where outdoor sculptures by Jerry Wingren, Chuck Parson and Bob Mangold had been installed. And inside, just beyond the center's main entrance, were more pieces by such Colorado modern masters as Andy Libertone, Dale Chisman, Joe Clower, Virginia Maitland, Bill Hayes, Gene Matthews, Elaine Colzolari, Clark Richert, David Yust and Stan Meyer. Andrews placed the younger generation at the top of the grand staircase; notable inclusions there were Homare Ikeda, Steven Altman, Ania Gola-Kumor, Trine Bumiller, Jeff Wenzel, John Clark, Bill Brazzell, Melanie Hoshiko, Bruce Price, Carl Reed, Scott Chamberlin and Jeffrey Keith (who felt he belonged downstairs with the mentor group). Despite Keith's complaint -- and the grousing of those who pointed out that key players like Emilio Lobato, who lives in Arvada, had been left out -- Andrews put together one of the best art shows of last year, in the process enhancing our understanding of the development of contemporary art in the region over the last 25 years.

Last fall, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center hosted the traveling Master Drawings exhibit, which featured more than 150 drawings ranging in date from the 1300s to the 1970s, all of them loaned by the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts. The Worcester has an enormous collection, numbering into the high hundreds; in the choices made for the CSFAC show, organizers included many big names from the history of art. Some of the most impressive drawings were the finished-presentation works, in which washes and watercolors were used to fill in the inked lines. The show had a lot of American pieces, but English and Italian drawings were also found in abundance, and there were several fine modernist sketches by Europeans working in the mid-twentieth century. Major exhibits of drawings are almost never seen, so this one was surprising -- as well as being one of the best art shows, of any kind, around.

Last fall, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center hosted the traveling Master Drawings exhibit, which featured more than 150 drawings ranging in date from the 1300s to the 1970s, all of them loaned by the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts. The Worcester has an enormous collection, numbering into the high hundreds; in the choices made for the CSFAC show, organizers included many big names from the history of art. Some of the most impressive drawings were the finished-presentation works, in which washes and watercolors were used to fill in the inked lines. The show had a lot of American pieces, but English and Italian drawings were also found in abundance, and there were several fine modernist sketches by Europeans working in the mid-twentieth century. Major exhibits of drawings are almost never seen, so this one was surprising -- as well as being one of the best art shows, of any kind, around.

Bill Brazzell is one of the younger artists who make up the majority of the ILK co-op's membership. In Align, presented last spring in ILK's branch location at Pirate, Brazzell cleverly melded intuitive gestural abstraction with its opposite, an organized formal structure. Several of Brazzell's paintings were done on thin sheets of concrete that had been stained with square dashes of rubbed-in oil pigment, then sealed with a layer of transparent wax. He then used multi-panel formats to create single paintings in which two, three or five squares are assembled to form one coherent shape. The [email protected] space is a little nothing of a room, but with only a few paintings, Brazzell was able to make a big statement.
Bill Brazzell is one of the younger artists who make up the majority of the ILK co-op's membership. In Align, presented last spring in ILK's branch location at Pirate, Brazzell cleverly melded intuitive gestural abstraction with its opposite, an organized formal structure. Several of Brazzell's paintings were done on thin sheets of concrete that had been stained with square dashes of rubbed-in oil pigment, then sealed with a layer of transparent wax. He then used multi-panel formats to create single paintings in which two, three or five squares are assembled to form one coherent shape. The [email protected] space is a little nothing of a room, but with only a few paintings, Brazzell was able to make a big statement.
Surely the tumbledown storefront that houses the main branch of the ILK co-op on the increasingly gentrified Santa Fe Drive gives no indication that inside, as often as not, are some of the best art shows in town. That was definitely the case early this spring when the south gallery was swept clean, painted, and given over to Untitled: Steven Altman, a solo show that featured some of this highly regarded Denver painter's latest abstractions. And they were sensational. Altman first lays a grid of paper on a board, then paints over it in a gestural style; his unerring sense of composition and striking juxtapositions of color provided this show with a number of breathtaking moments.

Surely the tumbledown storefront that houses the main branch of the ILK co-op on the increasingly gentrified Santa Fe Drive gives no indication that inside, as often as not, are some of the best art shows in town. That was definitely the case early this spring when the south gallery was swept clean, painted, and given over to Untitled: Steven Altman, a solo show that featured some of this highly regarded Denver painter's latest abstractions. And they were sensational. Altman first lays a grid of paper on a board, then paints over it in a gestural style; his unerring sense of composition and striking juxtapositions of color provided this show with a number of breathtaking moments.

Manitou Springs artists Tracy and Sushe Felix have exhibited in Denver since the 1980s. Both are highly regarded, and both have their pieces in many art collections (including the Denver Art Museum's). For this stunning show last summer, gallery director Bill Havu gave a large space to each artist -- and separating them from each other was a good idea, since stylistically, their paintings are clearly distinct. Husband Tracy's are lyrical, magic-realist scenes of imaginary yet familiar mountains; Sushe, on the other hand, uses transcendental symbolism to make abstracts. Both base their work on historical regional precedents from early in the twentieth century, Tracy responding to the artists of the Broadmoor Academy, Sushe to those who worked in Taos. Both Felixes are worth catching, whether they're together, as they were here, or apart, as is more often the case.

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