Exotic and Bizzare at MCA Denver


The Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver is home to exotic, bizarre, intricate, and bright art, which doesn’t mean the art isn’t phenomenal. On Feb. 20, art lovers flocked to MCA to experience the premiere of the new Winter exhibitions—the museum lobby was filled as guests viewed four new exhibits from artists Arne Svenson, Laura Shill, Brian Bress, and CU Denver Associate Professor of Painting and Drawing Lanny Devuono.

Svenson’s collection, titled The Neighbors, captures the everyday lives and movements of Svenson’s neighbors in New York. The digital photographs capture the vulnerability and emotions of people when they are in their homes, which provides a sense of empathy and relation between the piece and the viewer.

In one photo, there is a woman who was a maid scrubbing the wood floors of the apartment. The photographs speak volumes and convey a sense of normalcy and humbleness that each person in the display embodies.

The third floor of the museum houses Denver-based artist Laura Shill’s collection Phantom Touch. The exhibit is expressive and muted at the same time. Pieces are backed by white or cream-colored matting and painted with metallic or bright colors. Each of the pieces is composed of a watercolor on hard board paper.

On one wall is a series of five paintings of a woman’s hands that hang on the canvas like a phantom has engulfed the rest of the body. The fingernails of the woman are doused in bright red polish, which pop out against the creamy, bland skin tones.

Brian Bress’ Make Your Own Friends exhibit is showcased on the fourth floor. It includes several digital art pieces alongside intricate sculptures. The digital art pieces are clearly influenced by geometry, as many pieces are dominated by a shape in each piece. The color schemes of each piece varies—some pieces are black and white, pastel colored, or neon.

The digital pieces hang in electronic frames mounted onto each wall in the exhibit. Some pieces feature movement on the screen and others remain still. One piece that stands out is a digital art piece composed of six frames, where each frame has black and white stripes juxtaposed with black and white solid shapes. The piece reflects modernism and geometry, which are both themes throughout Bress’ work.

Professor Devuono’s Critical Focus collection includes several floor-to-ceiling- sized drawings which explore different textures and landscapes that are focused on the artist’s interest with outer space and extraterrestrial terrain. Devuono uses colored pencils in each and the color schemes in each drawing are mostly that of lighter neutrals—taupe, cream, white, and dove gray. The use of neutrals and natural colors make each canvas seem lifelike, as if the drawing was an actual snapshot of a desert or plain.

A piece that stands out depicted a terrain which looked desert-inspired. The ground was cracked and dry, looking like a snapshot of the American Southwest region. The pieces, as a whole, evoke a sense of appreciation for nature, as the drawings are supposed to be from out of this world but look like they’re from Earth.

The new exhibitions are incredibly original—each artist showcased has their own existential style and personality through using different artistic mediums, whether it be digital photographs, watercolor painting, clay and digital sculptures, or coal and colored pencil drawings. The bizarre-yet-sophisticated compositions and works of art in these exhibitions make for a fresh perspective at the MCA.

MCA Denver

1485 Delgany St.

(303) 298-7554


Tue–Thurs: noon–7 p.m.

Fri: noon–9 p.m.

Sat–Sun: 10 a.m.–5 p.m

—Ashley Bauler

Above:  Critical Focus collection showcases work from CU Denver’s Lanny Devuono.

photo: Ashley Bauler • CU Denver Sentry

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