Best Impersonation of a Museum by a Co-op 2011

Westword, Best of Award

Though it started up just over a year ago, the Ice Cube Gallery has already made its mark not just in RiNo, but in Denver’s art world as well. This is partly because of the obvious talent of the co-op’s members, who include Sophia Dixon Dillo, Theresa Anderson, Karen Roehl, Carol Browning, Katie Caron, Michael Gadlin, Ray Tomasso and Regina Benson. But it’s also because of the swank and enormous exhibition space that Ice Cube occupies in a handsome red-brick building that was once a dry ice factory; this impressive facility puts every other Denver co-op to shame.

Displaced: A Diversity of Conceptual Works at Ice Cube Gallery

Posted: 02/25/2011 01:00:00 AM MST

( image: Rebecca Vaughan and Peter Illig )

Katie Caron, one of the area’s top clay artists, also happens to be a talented curator.

That becomes clear after seeing “Displaced,” a brainy, sophisticated group exhibition that runs through Saturday at Ice Cube Gallery — one of Denver’s most handsome art spaces.

Caron chose 11 artists from this region and elsewhere, including some of her fellow students at the prestigious Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., where she earned her master of fine arts degree in 2009.

In a statement accompanying the show, Caron writes that these artists “reveal the residue — often hidden in plain sight — that results from our culture’s constant creation and consumption.”

The theme’s exact meaning, though, seems less important than the opportunity to see this edgy, conceptually driven body of work by diverse artists who all seem in tune with the latest currents.

Among the highlights is an installation exploring domestic interiors by Max Blankstein of Detroit. It includes “Cast and Recast. Cast Off, Cast Out,” a funky re-creation of a radiator molded in red fleece-covered plaster.

In “White Reef,” a fragile, retiring piece tucked into a dark corner and gently lit from below, Tiernan Alexander of Philadelphia uses recycled knitted fabric dipped in porcelain to evoke the textured topography of a coral reef.

Nikki Pike of Denver has built a sound installation that is meant to be a kind of pipe organ. The piece, titled “Ice Bellows,” makes use of the captured sounds of ice melting to create an aural experience.

In addition to exhibitions in museums and commercial galleries, Denver needs adventuresome, independent offerings like this one, which give the art scene greater depth and dimension.

This ambitious show, organized on an almost non-existent budget, is a coup for Caron and this still-emerging cooperative gallery.

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