The five best shows I’ve seen so far in 2020

When I say, “shows I’ve seen so far” I hope that I’m conveying a sense of optimism, that it won’t be long before galleries in the Denver metro area can reopen. Kudos to those galleries finding innovative ways to present art in these socially isolated times, including Denver’s K Contemporary and Leon.

Here are five shows from early 2020 that still give me the warm fuzzies as I wax nostalgic over First Fridays, Third Fridays and other gallery and museum jaunts.

Poems for Our Country, Union Hall, Denver — I am so impressed by the group shows in this gallery’s inaugural year. They are thoughtfully curated and well displayed in this darkened and sedate space. For this exhibition, artists were asked to create a slogan, message, or sentiment for the year to come. Not only did the artists demonstrate that brevity is the soul of wit, they also showed an amazing command of all sorts of materials. I caught the show just before it closed in early January. Shown is Noah Schneiderman, We Will Start Loving Each Other, Side 1.

Francesca Woodman: Portrait of a Reputation, MCA Denver — The mood was somber and uplifting at the same time, as these never-before-seen photos by the late Woodman lent tremendous insight into her inventiveness and eye for composition. Also humanizing the artist (and her reputation) were the candid photos by George Lange. Shown is a Woodman self-portrait from her series in a Boulder cemetery.

Natural Forces: Winslow Homer and Frederic Remington, Denver Art Museum — I so wish this small but mighty exhibition can still catch some in-person viewers. It is scheduled to run until June 7, 2020. Meantime, view it online and gain new appreciation for two artists, different as they were, who similarly helped define American art. Shown is Winslow Homer’s A Mountain Climber Resting (1869).

Invisible Horizons, William Havu Gallery, Denver — What’s not to love about gorgeous tributes to mountain scenery, especially if you’re a Coloradan. Landscapes by Tracy Felix coexist wonderfully with still lifes and cityscapes by Sushe Felix. Also on view through June 13, 2020, are the witty compositions by printer extraordinaire Tony Ortega. Shown is Three Lakes by Tracy Felix.

She Bends: Women in Neon, Loveland Museum, Loveland — This traveling show is at its most exciting when the artists incorporate not only neon and neon lettering, but also sculptural and multimedia elements. Also, I appreciate the mix of serious social commentary and humor, as well as the edginess that only bold and beautiful womxn can convey. The exhibition has been extended until May 24, 2020. Shown is Olivia Steele’s Set My Soul on Fire. Yes, that is an actual gas can.

For photos and comments on other shows I visited but didn’t necessarily review, please check my Instagram @deborahross5280

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