End Is Near for Three-Ring Circus at Plus

Ivar Zeile, owner of Plus Gallery, has described his aesthetic vision as being "eclectic." But looking at the three exhibits there now, all of which will end their runs on Saturday, July 12, that’s something of an understatement. Not only do the artists each work in a different medium, but each embraces a clearly different style as well. In fact, it’s impossible to see the pattern that interconnects the trio on view, probably because there isn’t one.

In the front space, longtime Denver artist and arts advocate Lauri Lynnxe Murphy is presenting some new -- and very strange -- sculptures in the aptly titled exhibit "Unnatural." The pieces depict imaginary animals that are somewhat fierce and scary-looking. Using ready-made fiberglass armatures of animal heads finished in automotive lacquer, Murphy has refigured them, adding multiple eyes to one, and in another, "Equus Bellum #84129" (pictured), she’s inserted pointed predatory teeth and put on its head two sets of clear plastic stag horns. The artist has said that she conceived of these sculptures in a dream, but they’re more like the cast of a nightmare.

In the center space is "Watershed," made up of drawings by Kate Petley that have been pinned directly to the wall. The informal installation perfectly matches the crude drafting in these apparently nature-based drawings. Petley is best known for her cool and elegant minimally abstract wall sculptures made of transparent cast acrylic, but the drawings in "Watershed" are as different from those as is possible to imagine. Petley acknowledges the radical shift in her work in her artist’s statement by writing, "Seen as a whole, my work is unified by its intensity," and thus, not by the way it looks.

In the tiny back space is "Colorband Series – Espana," which also underlines the idea that anything goes at this gallery -- and in any random combination. The extremely fine if miniscule exhibit highlights recent work by Santa Fe artist Tim Jag, whose signature style is an ultra-chic post-minimalism carried out in stripped color-field paintings. They are conventionally beautiful and thus they stand in stark contrast to the pieces that make up the other two shows. For those exhibits, the artists -- Murphy and Petley -- were not being particularly interested in the concept of making beautiful things -- at least not currently...

It’s hard to say what Zeile had in mind when he assembled this heterogeneous three-way, but whatever it was, the shows decamp at closing time tomorrow at Plus, 2350 Lawrence Street (303-296-0927). -- Michael Paglia

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts