Be a Cloud not a Grid. Vertigo Art Space owner Kara Duncan invited well-known Denver artist Theresa Anderson to curate a show, which resulted in Be a Cloud not a Grid. And although Vertigo is fairly compact, the show's charisma makes it look bigger than it is. Anderson's selections are diverse, reflecting a deeply personal approach to the material and showing off her broad art interests. In fact, it could be said that there's almost a free-associational quality to her choices — and perhaps only Anderson fully understands the connections. A number of the artists included have created small installations. Some of the standouts are those by Jaime Carrejo featuring blankets, cut paper and plastic chain; Laura Shill's site-specific installation following the profile of the staircase; and two Zach Reini works — a wall piece that looks something like a traditional Japanese brush painting, and an ironic welcome mat below. The one piece that best expresses the show's title is Rebecca Vaughan's "Medallions," which consists of white boxes in conventionalized cloud shapes. Through March 8 at Vertigo Art Space, 960 Santa Fe Drive, 303-573-8378, vertigoartspace.com. Reviewed February 20.
Kelton Osborn and Julia Fernandez-Pol. In the front space and stretching into the small connecting corridor at the Carmen Wiedenhoeft Gallery is Kelton Osborn's fragments revealed: a continuous process, which is dominated by mixed-media works on paper but also includes watercolors on board and 3-D pieces, all of them abstracts. The show not only marks Osborn's debut at Wiedenhoeft, but also the first solo anywhere for the artist, who was trained as an architect and practiced for eighteen years before cutting back on design and deciding to focus on art instead. In Wiedenhoeft's enormous back space is Julia Fernandez-Pol's Some Day, One Day, Far Away. The display offers a marvelous assortment of the artist's juicy abstractions, which are based on landscapes and microscopic life. Fernandez-Pol typically starts with a color field, then tops it with paint applied directly from tubes or with syringes, in some cases creating stripes. The colors and tactile characteristics of her paints suggest brightly colored bubble gum or luscious cake icing. Through March 1 at Carmen Wiedenhoeft Gallery, 3542 Walnut Street, 303-351-1251, carmenw.com.
Movers and Shapers. Sandra Phillips has put together a show at her namesake gallery featuring influential women artists who are active in the region. In a way, it's a companion to The Transit of Venus at RedLine, though only one artist, Virginia Maitland, appears in both shows. As at RedLine, there is no stylistic unity to the Phillips show; the artists are linked solely by gender, and not because their works are interrelated. (An exception is the case of Carley Warren and Virginia Folkestad, but that's almost accidental; both do conceptual installations often featuring the use of wood.) The two abstract artists, Ania Gola-Kumor and the aforementioned Maitland, couldn't be more different in their approaches, with Gola-Kumor creating dense and multi-dimensional works on paper while Maitland does simple color-field compositions. Finally, there's contemporary realist Irene Delka McCray, whose work is very in-your-face — a quality that also describes her signature approach to the figure, as exemplified here by a twisting nude male, his blue veins visible beneath his white skin. Through March 1 at the Sandra Phillips Gallery, 420 West 12th
Nature as Muse. This homegrown blockbuster — part of the Passport to Paris series — was curated by Denver Art Museum director Christoph Heinrich, who's proven over and over that he's a curator at heart. To organize it, Heinrich mined the rich vein of impressionism in the museum's permanent collection and combined works from it with selections from the collection of Frederic C. Hamilton, for whom the wing is named. These Hamilton paintings have for the most part not been exhibited in public in anyone's memory. The show starts with the foundational work of the realists and quickly shifts to the pioneering work of the impressionists; then there's a section devoted to American followers of the French-based movement, and finally, a salute to Monet, the star of Nature as Muse, many of whose paintings are included, notably the DAM's "Waterloo Bridge." In fact, right now there are eleven Monets on view at the DAM — an unprecedented number for Denver — with eight of them being paintings, and all but two of those are in this show. Through March 23 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, denverartmuseum.org; tickets are required. Reviewed November 28.
Out of Line. For this show, Jim Robischon and Jennifer Doran brought together artists working in conceptual abstraction, with all but two of them exploring post-minimal or post-pattern work. As is usual at Robischon, the work of Colorado artists is displayed alongside the work of established talents from elsewhere, creating an even playing field for the homegrown talent. The show opens with a selection of off-kilter abstracts by New York's Jason Karolak. In a niche are four luscious striped paintings by Colorado artist Wendi Harford. Beyond are conceptual deconstructions of geometry by New Mexico's Ted Larsen. Past the Larsen iron screen are marvelously iconic Derrick Velasquez sculptures, in which lengths of vinyl are draped over wooden wall mounts. In the space to the left, Colorado's Kate Petley riffs off mid-century abstraction with resin panels in which vaporous forms float beneath the surface. Behind is a computer panel by Annica Cuppetelli + Cristobal Mendoza whose lights change in their intensity. Finally, there are Bernar Venet prints depicting his sculptures that look abstract but are not. Through March 8 at Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee Street, 303-298-7788, robischongallery.com. Reviewed February 20.