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Focus on Denver
November 2009
Report by Molly Enholm

Focus on Denver

Denver Arts Week

Say this for Denver: it has a flair for the dramatic. The Denver Art Museum courted architectural controversy with its new Libeskind-designed Hamilton building in 2006, while the MCA Denver moved into its new glass-encased modular design by David Adjaye the following year. 2010 will witness the scheduled opening of the highly anticipated Clyfford Still Museum. Meanwhile, the contemporary gallery scene offers a broad spectrum of art destinations--RiNo, LoDo, the Golden Triangle Museum District and the Arts District on Santa Fe--each offering compelling reasons for exploration.

The David B. Smith Gallery, first opened in 2007 as the Limited Addiction Gallery, recently moved to the historic LoDO art district. With a focus on introducing emerging and established artists from across the United States to the local audience, this past year brought Portland-based artist Josh Keyes, Los Angeles artists Josh Agle (aka Shag) and Mike Stilkey, among others, and continues in November with Gregory Euclide hailing from Minnesota. Euclide's latest work is a commentary on the mediation of landscape, so that the means of representation rival what is shown to become the primary subject. Constructed dioramas of imaginary landscapes, combine artificial and natural materials with representational imagery and abstract motifs, deconstructing the inherent oppositions as they blend into one another.

The 3rd annual Denver Arts Week, November 6-14, 2009, will offer a celebration of the Mile High City's vibrant arts and culture scene with expanded "First Friday" art walks in six neighborhoods; 11 free museums staying open late on a Saturday night; and an "open house" at the nation's second-largest performing arts complex, among many other events.

The Denver Botanic Gardens has been a part of Denver since 1954 and 2009 marks the 50th anniversary of the first planting of the York Street location. Today, the gardens encompass two additional locations at Chatfield and Mount Goliath. This fall preparations have begun to make ready for the installation of monumental sculptural works of Henry Moore that will inhabit the Botanic Gardens at the York Street and Chatfield locations. Opening in March 2010, the sculptures will populate the garden through the year's end, set within the unique landscape of the gardens and complimented by natural light throughout the changing seasons.

Sabin Aell and Randy Rushton reside, maintain their studio and host art, music and design-oriented events in a unique space they call "Hinterland." Since opening in the RiNo district in March 2008, Hinterland has featured photography, painting, installation and furniture design, each manifesting a physicality that emphasizes the materials of choice. Showing through November 15, Bradley Borthwick investigates the relationship between art object and utilitarian artifact through installation of objects crafted in a pre-industrial aesthetic.

Russ Beardsly, Debra Goldman, Mike Mancarella and David Walker transformed an abandoned property into a multi-faceted artistic community collectively known as Ironton Studios 20 years ago. Ironton currently maintains metal fabricating facilities, woodshops, darkrooms, sculpture, painting studios, in addition to a gallery space where the artists active at Ironton regularly hold exhibitions featuring a wide array of media, including painting, sculpture and video.

The Madden Museum features rotating exhibitions combining the Madden's personal collection with loans from Museums located both in the United States and abroad. Opening October 30, Salotto Di Luminoso focuses on 19th-century Italian art, specifically artists from the Macchiaioli and Divisionist groups. To compliment this exhibition, the Vault Gallery will be transformed into a 19th-century Italian Salon, reminiscent of the gatherings where ideas of art, music and politics were exchanged during this revolutionary period of Italian history. The show will explore the social themes as well as the strides made in modern art by Italian artists including Giovanni Boldini, Giuseppe De Nittis, Silvestro Lega, Medardo Rosso and Italian Futurist Gino Severini.

Founded in 1996, MCA Denver provided the city with its first museum dedicated to contemporary art. As the institution concluded its first decade, a new building was designed by David Adjaye near lower downtown Denver and Union Station. This past year saw the merger of MCA with the Laboratory of Art and Ideas at Belmar in Lakewood as Adam Lerner, who founded The Lab in 2004, was appointed the new director of MCA this past February. Currently on view through January, Barnaby Furnas, Matthew Buckingham, Arlene Shechet, and Rex Ray.

During the month of November, Plinth presents new work of African American artist Kevin Snipes, "Color Blind," in his first solo-show at the gallery. The exhibition consists of over 20 new ceramic vessels and teapots combining unusual forms and intricate designs with caricature-style drawings turning the ubiquitous into the unique. Snipes' forms ultimately seek to transcend their function with imagery that speaks of contemporary social issues. Located in the River North Art District (RiNo), Plinth Gallery specializes in collectible, contemporary sculptural vessels by nationally recognized ceramic artists.

Since 2001, Plus Gallery has featured progressive work by local artists, working with traditional and experimental media. In 2009, the gallery moved into a new space that matched its interior objectives, the unique two-story "Flue building of the Benjamin Moore Paint complex on Larimar Street, just north of LoDo. As 2009 nears its conclusion, Plus Gallery presents two vibrant artists from Denver's contemporary scene, Jenny Morgan and Colin Livingston. Morgan's confrontational realistic paintings, on view through November 28th, utilize traditional methods of oil on canvas while incorporating techniques to disrupt the sense of realism. In December, Colin Livingston presents a new body of work in "The Big Idea," creating an ambitious installation that functions as a complete storefront containing his work, on display as product.

Focusing on local, national and international contemporary artists, Robischon Gallery promotes Postmodern pluralism incorporating worldwide trends into their broad range of exhibition programming. Featuring artists of notoriety including Ann Hamilton, Zhang Xiaogang, Manuel Neri, Bernar Venet, Judy Pfaff and Richard Serra in tandem with emerging artists, Robischon Gallery consistently exhibits work of integrity and vision, while acknowledging the historical precedence of individual idioms. Jessica Stockholder, known for her elaborate installations and colorful sculptural works, will be exhibiting at the gallery, November 7 - January 2.

"Recent Paintings," by Savannah-based artist Jason Hoelscher at Rule Gallery combine hard-edged abstraction with logo-style iconography creating visually compelling images that simultaneously embrace and disrupt modernism's formal constraints. Established in 1987, Rule Gallery exhibits contemporary abstract and conceptual works, including paintings, sculpture, photography, and works on paper. Rule brings national art to Denver through representation of prominent artists from around the country, while supporting the Denver art scene by promoting leading regional artists. Artists include: Carl Andre, Jason DeMarte, Pard Morrison, Udo Nöger, Clark Richert, Sandy Skoglund and Barbara Takenaga.

Featuring contemporary painting, sculpture, ceramics and photography from regional and nationally recognized artists, Sandra Phillips Gallery is located in the historic art district on Santa Fe Drive. Currently in the gallery, an overview of the multi-media works of Colorado pop-culture icon, Mel Strawn.

The appropriately named Space Gallery maintains a schedule of emerging and established local and national artists in the high-ceilinged 4,000 square-foot structure, located in the Santa Fe arts district. Through November 28, Haze and Jana Diedrich exhibit painting and ceramics, respectively, that embrace abstract imagery that hearkens to earlier cultures while the fractured and layered surfaces are simultaneously modern in their intent. Other artists include: Ryan Anderson, Penelope Caldwell, Jane Guthridge, Jeff Juhlin, Sky Patterson, Julie Puma, Jason Thielke & Mark Travis.

Translations Gallery, in the historic LoDo district, represents a selection of artists from the Western Region of the U.S. working in contemporary painting, mixed media, tapestry, sculpture, and fine art furniture. Rounding out the year, Translations will be showing the Bruce MarionÕs textural figurative abstractions and Rob William's mixed media compositions. Artists Include: Deidre Adams, Mark Bowles, Rachel Darnell, James Dormer, James Koehler, Anita Lewis, and Sandhi Schimmel Gold.

Showing through December 5, Homare Ikeda's complex works on canvas combine fluid organic forms and washes of color to create an rich and sensual worlds filled with exotic imagery and biomorphic forms accented with the painterly strokes of the artist's brush. The van Straaten Gallery features emerging and established regional and national artists working in various media on paper. The gallery is closely associated with the Riverhouse Editions, publisher of fine master prints, and van Straaten Gallery formerly based in Chicago.

Duke Beardsley is a fifth generation Coloradoan raised in Denver on a family cattle ranch in eastern Colorado. Beardsley's work combines iconic imagery of the American West with modern attributes, such as bright areas of flat color and repeated motifs, uprooting these familiar themes from their usual context and instilling them with a heightened level of energy. Visions West Gallery represents nationally recognized artists as well as talented emerging artists working with both traditional and contemporary themes.

Walker Fine Art, located in the Golden Triangle Museum District, exhibits contemporary art with an emphasis on sculpture, mixed media, and experimental photography from regional, national and international mid-career artists. Austrian-born artist Sabin Abell moved to Denver in 2005, working with recycled found materials to continue an exploration of materials, attitudes, and associations. In her first solo show at Walker Fine Art, Abell directs her attention towards photography in a multi-step process in which a digital image is embellished with painted dashes that creates a relationship between the printed image within and the painted surface without.

Established in Aspen in 1973, the William Havu Gallery moved to its current location in 1998 where it continues to produce seven yearly exhibitions focusing on themes of regionalism as it affects and is affected by both national and international trends in realism and abstraction. With a strong emphasis on mid-career, established artists, the gallery also shows emerging regional artists of exceptional maturity & quality. This November, the gallery brings together the work of 12 artists whose work also shares a home in the permanent collection of the Denver Art Museum in the aptly titled, "Artists in Common--Redux."

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