The Rule Gallery's Universal Limited Art Editions, which opened in February and is still on display, showcases fine prints by a who's who of contemporary artists. The top-drawer New York printmaker of the exhibit's title provided its fine prints, including some by Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Terry Winters. ULAE prints are a part of many important collections, such as those at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., and it's great to see works of this caliber in Denver.


Ceramic artist Jun Kaneko has pushed the clay vessel to the limits, throwing pots that are much, much larger than he is -- many of them towering more than ten feet tall and weighing thousands of pounds. This fall, Carson-Masuoka partner and gallery director Mark Masuoka organized a major show of Kaneko's widely known work. Once a studio assistant to the great potter and now an old friend, Masuoka had an inside track in putting the exhibit together. The enormous size of Kaneko's pots is just one of their winning qualities; others include the artist's fine sense for color and patterns, all of which came together in this amazing exhibit.


Most of the exhibits at the Lakewood Cultural Center are organized by guest curators, and, oddly enough, the modestly supported place often lucks out. A prime example was last summer's Veterans of Clay, a brief survey of Colorado ceramics that was ably assembled by the studious Tom Turnquist, a nationally known ceramics authority who actually lives -- get this -- in Lakewood. Primarily a pothead, Turnquist included a lot of vessels by legendary old-timers such as Nan and Jim McKinnell, then went a step further, supplementing those works with very different creations by contemporary sculptors like Doug Fey and Jim Foster. Somehow, it all worked.
In 1901, Artus and Anne Van Briggle opened a pottery factory in Colorado Springs, and their work immediately gained worldwide fame. Van Briggle pottery is displayed in museums in New York, London and Paris. As might be expected, however, the biggest horde was kept in the potters' home town, at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum. Although the majority of the museum's Van Briggles are usually put away, last summer the finest of them were brought out for this over-the-top show. Van Briggle Pottery is still in business, but the best pieces, like the ones in One Hundred Years, go back to the days when the long-gone Artus and Anne were still at the wheels.


It was certainly a surprise to find a museum-quality show in a run-down warehouse near the National Western Stock Show Complex, but there it was: Stephen Batura's hEMLOCK rOW. For this show, Batura did paintings in casein on wood, with subjects found in old photos from the Denver Public Library, where he used to work. The monochrome paintings were meticulous depictions of train wrecks, a favorite topic for Batura. Considering the creepy setting and the show's title, it seemed just right that hEMLOCK rOW closed on Halloween.


The husband-and-wife team of Tyler Aiello and Monica Petty Aiello has big dreams of establishing a full-tilt art center, with an exhibition space, classrooms, studios, foundries and even a coffee shop. Most of it is still pie-in-the-sky, but the couple already owns a large building and adjacent lot in a neglected area north of downtown, near the railroad yards. The Aiellos launched the first phase of their multi-part project, the exhibition space, last fall. A wildly successful reception ushered in Studio Aiello's debut exhibit, Grand Opening Group Show, which garnered the venue immediate notice as the best new gallery in town.


Newman Center for the Performing Arts
It's early to really start crowing, since the doors of the Newman Center aren't yet open to the public, but this building is a beauty, built for the ages from Indiana limestone and decorated with bas relief frescoes and a gorgeous carved-stone window. The crowning jewels of this new home to the Lamont School of Music and DU's esteemed theater program are its world-class performance stages, including the elegant, Old-World-style Gates Concert Hall, the functional Hamilton Recital Hall and the innovative Byron Flexible Theatre. What performance student wouldn't feel at home in a proving ground this grand?


After cutting her director's teeth for a few years on a small storefront operation on Broadway, Jeanie King moved her Fresh Art Gallery over to the ever-changing Santa Fe Drive arts district. She's created an enormous and smartly appointed complex that, in addition to a huge exhibition space, has half a dozen studios and a sculpture garden. The gallery's stock-in-trade is contemporary abstraction by Colorado artists, especially emerging ones. The relocation was a smart move, and more than a thousand guests showed up for Fresh Art's recent grand opening, making it one of the best-attended art events in memory.


The Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design recently announced that it is moving out of Denver, but the news is a lot better than it sounds. The school has been in a group of ugly buildings at the corner of East Evans Avenue and South Oneida Street, but in June it will move into the old Jewish Consumptive Relief Society campus, near Colfax Avenue and Pierce Street in Lakewood. The JCRS is magical, the grounds filled with big, old trees and historic buildings. The stately place deserves to have new life breathed into it, and that's what RMCAD is set to do.


Foothills Art Center just celebrated its 35th anniversary, but the real milestone lies with the impending retirement of longtime director Carol Dickinson. When Dickinson took over Foothills more than a decade ago, the center was a genuine backwater; with little more than her will, she transformed it into something relevant and worth seeing. She brilliantly retooled the exhibition schedule, satisfying the conservative small-town tastes of Golden while bringing in more sophisticated viewers from Denver. Dickinson was surely the best thing to happen to Foothills, and she'll be sorely missed.


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