Critical Focus: Monique Crine filled the lower-level gallery at MCA Denver with big, beautiful portraits of big, handsome guys. The paintings, all of which were specifically created for this exhibit, depicted recently retired professional football players who had been sidelined by injuries. The show was part of the Critical Focus series of exhibits at the MCA, which were meant to highlight the accomplishments of selected emerging artists; this one was put together by curator Nora Burnett Abrams. Crine’s paintings are so accurate in their depictions that at first they look like photos, so it comes as no surprise that she initially photographed the men, then used the resulting shots as preliminary studies for her finished paintings. The photographic quality of the paintings is reinforced by their utterly smooth surfaces, with Crine having expertly manipulated the thinned-out pigments. These portraits, many of them monumental in size, are part of an ongoing Crine series called Eden Prairie, examples of which are currently in a national traveling show.