Denver art exhibitions to see right now: Walker Fine Art, Rule Gallery, David B. Smith Gallery and more

The good news: There is a slew of top-notch art exhibitions happening now in the region.

The better news: Things have gotten a bit more casual lately. Thanks to a pandemic slowdown, many galleries that once asked visitors to make appointments in advance have loosened restrictions. Follow evolving mask guidelines, for sure, but enjoy the art at your leisure.

And there’s a diverse lineup to explore — big shows, small shows and serious comebacks.

Here are some highlights.

In Boulder, the CU Art Museum comes back big 

When the pandemic emerged, the CU Art Museum closed its doors along with every other gallery in town. But it didn’t sit idle.

The museum found temporary purpose as an anchor for remote learning, and by transforming exhibition space into the sort of large classrooms that could accommodate socially distanced learners.

It also decided it wanted to be more community-focused when it welcomed the public to return. “We’re really thinking about who’s excluded and who’s included — both the artists that we exhibit, but also how we can empower our audiences and how we can be a visitor-centered museum,” as museum director Sandra Firmin put it in the reopening announcement.

Now the museum returns, 17 months later, with two shows — and both are promising. The first features recent abstract photographs and works on canvas by Longmont-based artist. The other showcases Toronto-based artist Tim Whiten, whose “Tools of Conveyance” surveys 40 years of works on paper and three-dimensional objects.

There’s something monumental about the shows and the moment.

The CU Art Museum is free. 1085 18th St., Boulder. Info: 303-492-8300 or colorado.edu/cuartmuseum.

At Rule, multimedia work from Katherine Simóne Reynolds

Three decades in, Rule Gallery continues to surprise Denver gallery-goers with unique talents  and unexpected exhibitions. This time, the Santa Fe Drive gallery showcases the work of international artist Katherine Simóne Reynolds, whose career crosses lines between static work and live performance.

Reynolds’ installations at Rule feature environments that include photography, video and sculpture that continue her “exploration of emotional dialects and psychogeographies of the Black landscape.” The work is rich and multilayered.

Additionally, Reynolds has curated a second show in Rule’s upstairs gallery titled “While Performing in the Corner of the World” and featuring Tya Anthony, Jasmine Abena Colgan, Noa Fodrie and Rochelle Johnson.

Rule is located at 808 Santa Fe Drive. It’s always free. Info at 303-800-6776 or rulegallery.com.

In the Golden Triangle, new art in an old school

Black Cube, the roving local art presenter, sets up shop in the Historic Evans School for its latest group show, “Movement Toward the Other.” It’s a power-packed combo of art and architecture, taking place in the iconic former school’s boiler room and featuring a top-quality list of local and international names.

The show is timely, exploring topics of “isolation, trauma, lack of physical touch, political divides and calls for gender and racial equity.” And the lineup shows just how deep a bench Black Cube has in the roster of talents it brings to Denver,

The list is impressive: Julie Béna (Prague); Scott Chamberlin (Denver); Patty Chang (Los Angeles); Juntae TeeJay Hwang (Denver); Suchitra Mattai (Denver); Kelly Monico (Denver);  Barbara Sánchez-Kane (Mexico City);  Adam Parker Smith (New York City); and Anna Uddenberg (Berlin).

The Historic Evans School is located at 1115 Acoma St. Check out the Black Cube website for hours and instructions on access. It’s free. Info: blackcube.art.

At David B. Smith, a crucial voice of the West

After decades of capturing scenes of the waning West, Don Stinson has sealed his reputation as one of the most important painters in Colorado.  But these days, he has a new vantage point on the middle of the country, having relocated to Iowa.

How’s the scenery? In his artist’s statement for his new exhibition, “The Anvil and Other Works,” Stinson says that it can be challenging, adjusting to different light conditions and shifting environments. “The uncertainties of life,” he writes, “sometimes leaves my images less resolved.”

Such confessional moments make this show at David B. Smith Gallery irresistible, with a veteran hand letting us know this work evolves as we watch.

The fare will still look familiar, anchored by Stinson’s trademark habit of capturing old and abandoned drive-in movie theaters. The thrill will be in seeing where he’s headed next.

David. B. Smith Gallery is located at 1543 A Wazee St. Always free. Info at 303.893.4234 or davidbsmithgallery.com.

At Visions West, sizing up the state of Western art

No Denver gallery does a better job of presenting the range of contemporary Western artists than Visions West. Its annual “Mountain Standard Time” offers a chance for the gallery — and the public — to connect the dots between the many names on its roster.

What does the current edition of the group show say about the moment? Well, it’s diverse, at least in the many points of view that painters and sculptors have on the region right now. Some are on the serious side, taking on social and environmental concerns, others lean more toward entertainment, playing on cliches of cowboy culture and the great outdoors. Combined together, they do make you consider just what is crucial and what is just plain fun.

Visions West is located at 2605 Walnut St., Denver. Free. Info at 303-292-0909 or visionswestcontemporary.com.

At Walker, maximum mixing and matching

Denver’s visual art ecosystem is small but mighty, relying on a few galleries that have weathered time and changing tastes to keep art sales healthy and artists eating. In that world, Walker Fine Art is a very dependable player.

Gallery owner Bobbi Walker maintains a strong roster and a deft skill for mixing and matching artists to build strong shows for the public. For any weekend gallery hop, Walker should always be on the list.

The current exhibition demonstrates how a commercial curator combines colors, textures and attitudes for maximum effect. Atticus Adams’ earthy, multidimensional wire mesh wall sculptures are the right complement to Melanie Grein’s buoyant and colorful mixed-media paintings, which play well against Patricia Finely’s deep, psychological resin and ink, jewel-inspired abstract wonders. It’s a strong lineup.

Walker Fine Art is located at 300 W. 11th Ave. in the Golden Triangle. It’s free. Info at 303-355-8955 or walkerfineart.com. 

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