Ronald Otsuka, Who Built the DAM's Asian Art Department, Retires After 41 Years

Categories: Art review

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Ron Otsuka, curator of Asian art at the Denver Art Museum.

The Denver Art Museum's Gio Ponti tower -- now ignobly dubbed the North Building -- was completed in 1971. It was less than two years later that a young Asian-art scholar, Ronald Otsuka, was hired to shepherd the Asian-art department there. This December, Otsuka, the Joseph de Heer Curator of Asian Art, is stepping down, so it's no exaggeration to say that it is the end of an era.

Otsuka, whose grandparents came to California from Japan, grew up around Los Angeles, and outside of his Japanese ancestry, he had no special interest in Asian art. But then he spent his junior year of college in Japan, where he learned about the art not just of that country, but of China, Korea and Taiwan, as well.

See also: Shape & Spirit: Selections From the Lutz Bamboo Collection at the DAM


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Neo-Modernists Go for That Waxy Buildup in Works on View at Space

Categories: Art review

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"Skin Deep," by Howard Hersh.

Michael Burnett, director of Space Gallery, has a taste for neo-modernism -- that post-postmodern style that's been coming on strong for the last decade. You can see it in his neo-modernist building, which opened this past summer (and which, by the way, has become the place to have your cannabis-friendly same-sex wedding).

See also: The new Space Gallery went from prefab to fabulous

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Review: Conceptual Takes on Nature Fill the Robischon Gallery

Categories: Art review

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Robischon Gallery
Kim Dickey

The exhibit Testing Grounds, which runs through this weekend only at Robischon Gallery, brings together artists who look to nature, especially the Western landscape, as sources for their disparate approaches. As usual at Robischon, there's enough room to allow the artists to essentially be given solos, so that the work of each one is seen in depth.

An exception is Kim Dickey, who is represented by a single work, "Inverted I-Beam (hedge)," and who is a late addition to the show's roster. Her piece was included to celebrate the fact that she has a sculpture in the upcoming State of the Art, a widely anticipated survey of contemporary American art opening this fall at the Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas. That's quite an accomplishment for a Colorado artist.

See also: Five Reasons Why It Would Be Stupid To Demolish Boettcher Concert Hall


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Eight Is Enough To Fill Introductions II at the Still Newish Michael Warren Contemporary

Categories: Art review

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Paul Sisson's "Pete's Service."
Part of a crop of new galleries that have been sprouting up like mushrooms around town in the past few months, Michael Warren Contemporary occupies the storied Santa Fe Drive space that formerly housed the van Straaten Gallery, and before that, the Sandy Carson Gallery.

The current exhibit, Introductions II, is, as the suffix suggests, a follow-up to Introductions, which was was presented earlier this summer.

See also: Review: The Naked Truth About Pop Artist Tom Wesselmann

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Review: The Naked Truth About Pop Artist Tom Wesselmann

Categories: Art review

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Lent by Claire Wesselmann. © Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY, Photo Credit: Jeffrey Sturges.
"Still Life #60," by Tom Wesselmann
In the 1960s, when Tom Wesselmann, whose work is currently on display at the Denver Art Museum, first gained national attention, and into the '70s, his name was mentioned in the same breath as that of Warhol, Johns and Rauschenberg. Today, not so much. On a personal note, I teach one of those soup-to-nuts, Turner-to-Judd classes at the University of Colorado Denver, but when I lecture on pop art, I don't even mention Wesselmann -- though I can hardly shut up about Warhol.

So what happened? What went wrong? Here's my three-part theory.

See also: Review: These Four Artists Have Cracked the Code at the Sandra Phillips Gallery

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Review: These Four Artists Have Cracked the Code at the Sandra Phillips Gallery

Categories: Art review

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Sandra Phillips Gallery
"Amino Acid Chain and Protein," by Sue Simon.
Codes are the focus of four artists who are showing work at the Sandra Phillips Gallery right now in ID Series. The featured artist is Sue Simon, who is brand-new to Phillips but has been showing in Denver since the 1990s.

During that time, she has continuously explored ways to convey mathematical and scientific concepts through abstract paintings -- something of a natural development, given her background as a scientific illustrator.

See also: Five Things You Didn't Know About the Sculptures in Denver's Burns Park

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It's Retro-a-Go-Go at Walker Fine Art With Angela Beloian and Roger Hubbard

Categories: Art review

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"8 Shades of Grey," by Angela Beloian.
For In Technicolor, her new exhibit at Walker Fine Art, Boulder artist Angela Beloian created a body of retro '60s and '70s paintings and screen prints based on "sketches" done using an iPhone.

The works refer to minimalism, abstract surrealism and psychedelic art using just a couple of formal moves.

See also: Review: The Arvada Center's Unbound: Five Installations moves, sparkles and shines

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Review: The Arvada Center's Unbound: Five Installations moves, sparkles and shines

Categories: Art review

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Last month I reviewed Unbound: Sculpture in the Field, an over-the-top outdoor exhibit for which the prairie land south of the Arvada Center has been turned into an informal sculpture garden. Using newly cast concrete pads, exhibition manager Collin Parson and assistant curator Kristin Bueb oversaw the placement of sculptures by fifteen contemporary Colorado sculptors ranging from members of the old guard, exemplified by Robert Mangold, to young, still-emerging artists such as David Mazza.

Though Sculpture in the Field is the most high-profile exhibit at the Arvada Center right now -- if only because it's visible from Wadsworth -- it's just one of a series of four shows there this summer that employs the umbrella title of "Unbound." This time around, I'll discuss one of those other exhibits, Unbound: Five Installations.

See also: Review: The Arvada Center takes a leap outside with Unbound: Sculpture in the Field

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Friends Carry the Late Robin Rule's Gallery Forward With Joseph Coniff Show

Categories: Art review

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Rule Gallery
Joseph Coniff's Delineation (in pink pyramid), Delineation (in studio taupe) and Delineation (in nothing).
Joseph Coniff (in parentheses) is only the second presentation to open at the Rule Gallery since the untimely death of Robin Rule late last year.

It was important to Rule that the gallery continue, so three longtime associates -- Valerie Santerli, Rachel Beitz and Hilary Morris -- are carrying on her vision. Rule might roll her eyes at the tumble-down character of the entry to the gallery, but she'd surely approve of the exhibition space where the Coniff show is installed.

See also: Best Parting Glance Denver 2014 -- Robin Rule's last show

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Review: The Gildar Gallery makes a power play with Takeover

Categories: Art review

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Adam Milner's "Torsos." Check out more pictures from Gildar Gallery's latest exhibition.

The Gildar Gallery is housed in an anonymous-looking storefront on South Broadway, barely marked by a sign. That unassuming presence continues inside -- but modest circumstances haven't deterred owner Adam Gildar from presenting thoughtful programs not unlike those found at contemporary art museums.

In this spirit, Gildar invited a guest curator, Charlie James, to organize the current show, which is appropriately titled Takeover.

See also: Review: Outside in 303 tells a real west side story


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