Open For Interpretation

Appreciation for Denver artist Mark Penner-Howell’s clever paintings, which expertly mix pop images with ironic underlying themes in a colorful palette and humorous tone, has been gaining momentum over the past few years, but with his latest show — The New Normal, which opens tonight at Space Gallery — he’s raising the bar.

“The work I’m doing now is a little more demanding and engaging. It’s less decorative, less friendly for furniture and more indicative of me trying to get some ideas out,” Howell says. “It has to do with how I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with all this fallout from the economy and how it affected me personally. That’s the shadow that is cast, and it’s a bummer that follows a lot of us around, though we try to make the best of it.

“With that as a background, I decided to tackle thoughts about money and ownership and our sense of well-being that’s informed by ideas of personal wealth. It’s also about how conversation is controlled by a handful of media outlets, how it’s all dumped down and we’re given two choices for everything. And then I let that stuff filter through my own weird, idiosyncratic imagery that I carry around in my head.

The New Normal opens with a reception tonight from 6 to 9 p.m. at Space, 765 Santa Fe Drive; a First Friday open house follows to-morrow at the same time. The show continues through January 29; for information, visit or call 720-904-1088.
Jan. 6-29, 2011