Although well-known in the Rocky Mountain area, Denver artist Bill Amundson has operated mostly under the national radar. But now as one of the artists featured in Face to Face, an exhibition on view at the Denver Art Museum, that may soon change. Amundson’s work is currently hanging alongside works by Lucian Freud and Francesco Clemente, two of the most highly regarded figurative artists working today. As one observer noted, “not bad for a Denver artist.”
The wry Amundson has dubbed himself a “suburban regionalist” because of his frequent spotlight on the transformation of pristine western terrain into shopping malls and housing subdivisions. While his drawings may appear humorous on the surface, they are, on closer inspection, often edgy commentaries on pop culture, mass consumerism, and fast food restaurants. Amundson is fond of injecting his own face into these visual editorials. And his face is a witty, wrinkled book that tells the story of our times.
In one of the exhibit’s drawings, Self Portrait With Pricey Mountain Homes, an image of the artist’s skull is ringed with mountain ridges that are in turn dotted with houses—a scene reminiscent of the urban sprawl that stretches across the front range of the Rocky Mountains today. In quintessential Amundson fashion, it’s the kind of piece that can make the viewer smile and shed a tear inside at the same time.
Big city museums often snub homegrown talent, so it’s indeed heartening to see a deserving artist like Amundson get some serious face time. –Bonnie Gangelhoff
Face to Face is on view at the Denver Art Museum through June 30.