Andy Miller: A Deconstruction of Life knocked everyone out when it was shown at Pirate last spring. The show featured four monumental steel and neon sculptures that depicted simplified images of men committing suicide. One was hanging by a noose from the ceiling, another aimed a gun at his head, a third was taking a vial of poison, and the last was jumping to his death. The subject matter was disturbing, but suicide is only one of the topics Miller hopes to take up in the future; these pieces are the first in a series of sculptures addressing crime and violence.

The William Havu Gallery pays as much attention to sculpture as any place in town. There's always a piece on the sidewalk, and there's a proper sculpture garden in back. For Three Dimensions, a great indoor show, owner Bill Havu gathered work by three established sculptors from the region: Denver's Lawrence Argent; Mary Bates Neubauer, from Tempe, Arizona; and Stephen Daly from Austin, Texas, whose pieces filled a couple of rooms. The combination of styles made for a sensational trio.

Best Sculptor in a Group Show -- Emerging Artist

Morgan Barnes

The rambunctious Group Show 2 was the latest version of Studio Aiello's biennial. This time around, Kathy Andrews, director of Metro State's Center for Visual Art, served as a single juror, selecting all of the pieces herself. Among the dozens of objects that Andrews chose was "Evolution of Form & Concept, #2," a sculpture by emerging art star Morgan Barnes. The piece, which took charge of the front gallery, was downright zany for a modernist work: a stile that rocked and chimed, with a rusted patina accented by polka dots. Studio Aiello has since signed Barnes on as a regular, and if this piece is any indication of things to come, that was surely the right move.

Justin Beard went all out to create his funny, smart and somewhat politically incorrect installation "Second Hand Smoke" at [email protected] The meticulously crafted piece was also interactive. Beard placed a black table in front of a red-vinyl-covered banquette. On the table was an open, bound sketchbook, which contained a stencil and, underneath, a vacuum. Visitors were invited to sit at the banquette and smoke a cigarette; as the vacuum pulled their exhaled smoke through the page, the residual tars spread to color the open areas of the stencil. Ironically, the finished smoke-drawings were traditional in style -- unlike the work itself.

Ron Wohlauer was a legend among Colorado photographers, with a style best exemplified by his majestic black-and-white landscapes. Sadly, he died last year after battling repeated bouts of cancer. In a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction moment, Wohlauer's latest book of photos, SMALL ROOMS and HIDDEN PLACES, came out just a few days after he passed away. There was nothing else to do but to put on a memorial show based on the book. And that's precisely what John Grant of the Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs did, curating a gorgeous exhibit at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center. Credit is also due to Skip Kohloff and Lisbeth Neergaard Kohloff, CPAC's heart and soul, respectively, for hastily clearing the decks to make room for it.

Best Photography Solo -- Established Artist

David Sharpe

For his self-titled show at the Robischon Gallery, photographer David Sharpe focused on unfocused shots of the Western landscape taken with primitive, homemade cameras -- the kind of thing he's done for years. His pinhole cameras are made from cylindrical containers such as oatmeal boxes. Aping the method of nineteenth-century photographers, Sharpe travels into the countryside with an ad hoc photo lab -- though the actual printing goes on in his home studio. There he has mounted an enlarger in his garage attic and projects the images through a hole onto light-sensitive paper on the garage floor. The great distance between the projection and the paper allows Sharpe to produce large prints from his tiny originals.

Sometimes shows in Pirate's cramped and awkwardly shaped Associates' Space outshine the main attractions up front. That was surely the case when Conor King's Sentience was on view there. The twenty-something King, a recent University of Colorado graduate, created six photo enlargements framed in natural-wood boxes. The photos were illuminated from behind, making them glow. The images depicted people involved in enigmatic activities -- like a man on a rope raiding a nest filled with giant eggs. The room was lit only by the glow of the photos, which unified them and also established an appropriately somber mood.

Open Press LTD: A 15-Year Anniversary was a short course in the recent history of printmaking in Denver. The show, presented at the Gallery of Contemporary Art at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, was an enormous survey of the fruits of the fine press founded by master printer Mark Lunning. Over the years, Lunning has facilitated scores of artists in making thousands of prints in Denver. The daunting job of winnowing the selections down to a manageable number fell to the GCA's longtime director, Gerry Riggs, who created an exhibit that included a big chunk of the contemporary-art scene around here.

Computers have had a big effect on the visual arts, especially photography: Digital cameras and digital printing are now the standards. And though the pieces in Quintin Gonzalez: digital images resembled digital photos, they were actually drawings created with a variety of software applications. One of the most striking features of the work was the iridescent palette of remarkable tones that Gonzalez squeezed out of a LightJet printer. Not only is Gonzalez one of the best high-tech artists in town, but he also inspires the creative use of technology as a teacher at the University of Colorado at Denver. The Sandy Carson show was a good introductory course.

Unstitched: A Voyeur's Idiom, displayed at weilworks, was both confrontational and beautiful, an outlandish and hard-to-achieve combination. Photographer Jimmy Sellers used his childhood interest in G.I. Joes to create political works that comment on the issues of gays in the military and same-sex marriage. In color and black-and-white digital prints, the macho figures were posed in various evocative situations; some involved violence, others eroticism. The G.I. Joes so resembled real men that many viewers had a hard time figuring out what was and wasn't real. Taking beefcake shots of dolls to further political discussions was very funny -- and very effective.

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