Space Gallery is one of the top spots on Santa Fe Drive south of downtown Denver, which is the art district in the city. Space\'s success is predicated on two things. First, it\'s enormous, with several display rooms on two floors. Second--and more importantly--owner Michael Burnett has a talent for finding promising emerging artists, as well as snagging those who are mid-career but who have kept a low profile. The eponymous exhibit \"Sarah Fox\" highlights the latter type, because though Fox has lived in Denver for nearly a decade she has only rarely exhibited locally, and when she has, it\'s been at Space. The show was installed in the intimate main gallery that the artist has filled with a selection of her wonderful neo-modernist abstract paintings.
Though her oeuvre reveals a relationship with mid-20th century Abstract Expressionism, there are also decorative features to Fox\'s paintings that are decidedly not AbEx. The paintings are examples of a kind of thing that\'s being done nationally right now, in which artists in all mediums have been tweaking the standards of classic modernism and in the process have come up with genuinely contemporary pieces. Fox begins by painting in layers with one on top of the other and with each subsequent coat only partly obliterating the one beneath it. Thus the top surface contains glimpses of the previous levels. When she is finally happy with the build-up of pigments, she goes in and establishes order and simplicity through the insertion of simple, vaguely geometric shapes, especially loosely drawn circles and semi-circles. It\'s apparent that her final compositions have been arrived at with an instinctual sense for the placement of forms. The compositions even wrap around the sides of the paintings--suggesting that she works on un-stretched canvas, but she doesn\'t.
Arguably the most important feature of Fox\'s paintings is the palette she uses. She\'s written that color mixing is to her the most important aspect of her work. And there\'s definitely a case to be made for that. She loves unlikely juxtapositions of clashing shades such as turquoise and red, or lavender and olive, and though it\'s surprising, her combinations are reliably successful. \"Sarah Fox\" was a handsome and smart-looking show dominated by small paintings; although Fox is also adept at doing larger compositions, only a couple of those were on view.