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“A Conscious Surrender”
Walker Fine Art, Denver, Colorado
Recommendation by Deborah Ross

Anna Charney, "Orbital Oscillation," 2018, site-specific installation. Photo by Peter Kowalchuk

Continuing through September 8, 2018

“A Conscious Surrender” is an open-ended premise that makes for an engaging and sensual show. Five of its artists and one guest artist were invited to “let go” — to push aside any well-laid plans for their abstract paintings and sculptures and to surrender to the subconscious. Several vibrant and flowing works help us feel similarly transported by color, line, pattern and form without having to overthink what we are seeing.

Mark-making panels by Deidre Adams reinforce the “surrender” premise partially through her titles. Heavily layered with squiggles, doodles, hieroglyphics and dots on a harmonious wash of colors, “There are No Words” “and “One Possible Interpretation” brim with spontaneity. Ben Strawn evokes the sense of awe that comes from bird’s-eye views in his loose interpretations of aerial landscapes. “Traverse” suggests a winding black road amid farmland and lakes, yet the eye is drawn to linger on the lush, amorphous areas of greens, blues and pinks. Carol Browning’s “Susurrus” asks us to think about the balance between chaos and serenity. Swirls of black, white and orange brushstrokes suggest fire, along with its dichotomies of destruction and renewal. The show also includes eye-catching canvases exploring negative space by Sara Pittman, and eight-foot-high towers of rusted-steel cylinders by David Mazza, who apparently wants us to imagine “objects flying through space, frozen in time,” as he explains in his artist’s statement.

The works by Anna Charney are more precisely rendered than the rest, but are mesmerizing nonetheless. Particularly engaging is “Orbital Oscillation,” an op-art mural that takes up a wall then cascades onto the concrete floor. Enlarged, halftone dots swoop through concentric circles suggesting turbines. It’s a prime example of artists’ ability to immerse us in their works, whether we consciously surrender our gaze or not.

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