8 crucial places to see art right now on the Front Range

The gallery scene changes quickly in Colorado. New galleries, new exhibition trends. Plenty of fresh artists trying to make their mark. My annual list of the crucial places to see art changes, too, depending on where the energy is flowing at the moment.

Right now, the current runs through these eight spaces.

Bell Projects

Bell Projects has been around for a few years now, but with a recent move to Denver’s City Park neighborhood, it found a place, and a voice, where it could come into its own. The gallery is a project space, serving as a venue where artists can unveil works, or series of works, that explore a single complex idea or narrative. That means the objects on display come with a bit of deep thinking that can be missing in the usual commercial gallery show. Bell has made City Park a little more artful, bringing high-quality and affordable art to the area.

Next up: “Shafts of Grace,” March 3-14, featuring the moody street photos that veteran photographer Jeffrey Hersch takes around the world. Bell Projects, 2822 E. 17th Ave. Info: bell-projects.com.

RedLine Contemporary Art Center

Now in its second decade, RedLine Art Center has done much to improve the lives of local artists, though its public gallery offerings have been inconsistent. That’s because RedLine attempts so many good things at once, including working meaningfully with local homeless people in Curtis Park, that its exhibition program can get overwhelmed.  But right now, RedLine — coming off of crucial offerings by artists Gregg Deal, Ian Fisher and Beau Carey — is red hot. These shows have been must-sees.

Next up: “Typed Live, Excuse Errors: A Mark Sink Retrospective,” from March 11 to April 9, will showcase one of the region’s best-known photographers. RedLine is at 2350 Arapahoe St. Info: redlineart.org.

Littleton Museum

Suburban cultural centers do not usually make it onto lists of trendy galleries, but Littleton has an undeniable rhythm right now that deserves attention. It’s a government-affiliated operation, which means it is not going to show super risky fare, but within that limitation, it has managed exhibitions that are both relevant (like Kalliopi Monoyios‘ recent, epic installation of recycled trash) and rich in local history (like the captivating and exhaustive pioneer fashion retrospective staged by its own curators last year). Let’s hope the momentum continues.

Next up: “REinterpreting REcreating Nature,” through May 14, featuring Christopher Warren’s infinitely interesting three-dimensional interpretations of topographic maps of Colorado landscapes. The museum is at 6028 S. Gallup St., Littleton. Info: littletongov.org

Museo de las Americas

The museo is a unique place. It plays dual roles as a fine art gallery with an impressive collection of its own, and as a spirited cultural center for Denver’s Latino community. Its art program reflects that. It aims to give voice to local concerns, and so it presents very small shows. But it also tries to place Denver in the middle of a global art ecosystem and produces exhibitions with an international outlook. The museo’s upcoming show of contemporary Colombian art should serve as an excellent example of that big-picture thinking.

Next up: “The Corn, The River and The Grave,” March 15-Aug. 20, will feature work from 15 names in contemporary Colombian art. Museo de las Americas, 6028 S. Gallup St., Littleton. Info: littletongov.org.

Denver Botanic Garden galleries

DBG invested big time in art when it made gallery space a priority in the $116 million Freyer Newman Center it opened in 2020, making a commitment to producing art exhibitions for decades to come. So far, so good. The shows have been interesting and international, and the fare, connected to the nature programs at the garden, have been enlightening. It would be great to see botanists and curators using this unique opportunity to work more closely together, and at least a little risk-taking in its too-safe lineup. But DBG has added mightily to the local scene, and there is more to come.

Next up: “Peace Walking,” through May 29,  Melanie Yazzie’s retrospective of works that convey “qualities of wonder and healing, while encouraging viewers to engage with complex Indigenous experiences.” Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York St.  Info: botanicgardens.org

Michael Warren Contemporary

Michael Warren owners Mike McClung and Warren Campbell are two of the hardest-working gallerists in Denver, and their labor pays off in the form of this relaxed space, which is a growing energy resource for artists, collectors and the Santa Fe art district it calls home. The duo honed their affiliations keenly over the years to create a business with balanced fare and consistently interesting public exhibitions. Any trip down Santa Fe Drive includes a stop here.

Next up: Michael Warren is going all-in for Denver’s current Month of Photography, with shows by Andrew Beckham, Brenda Biondo, Angela Faris Belt and Gwen Laine. Check the website for the schedule. The gallery is at 760 Santa Fe Drive. Info: michaelwarrencontemporary.com.

Center for Visual Art

The CVA remains one of Denver’s most-treasured art spaces, even though it is not always at the center of conversations on local art. That’s because it tends to look inward, fulfilling its mission of being both a public art space and an exhibition venue for the students and faculty at Metropolitan State University, which operates it. But when the CVA goes big, like it did with last year’s “Banana Craze,” which looked at global food supply issues, it can be the best gallery in Colorado.

Next up: “Entanglements,” through March 25, brings together an international group of photographers who consider our complex relationship with the environment. The CVA is at 965 Santa Fe Drive. Info: msudenver.edu/cva

Robischon Gallery

Robischon remains on this list, time and again, because it puts on the best exhibitions of any commercial art gallery in Colorado. The reason is twofold. First, it represents serious talents, from near and far, who make shiny, appealing and smart objects for public consumption. Second, because Robischon mixes and matches them into cohesive shows that make a visit there deeply satisfying, always.

Next up: “45+,” the second part of Robischon’s ongoing celebration of its long and distinguished presence on the scene. Star-studded. Robischon is at 1740 Wazee St. Info: robischongallery.com

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