Simply divine in Denver

Windows to the Divine, the intriguing title given to the biennial art show held this year at the Madden Museum of Art near Denver, is noteworthy for at least one reason. It’s hard to recall another show that brings together top artists and asks them to create works that interpret spirituality without confining their visual riffs to sacred or religious subjects. Thus, the show that opened Saturday night featured angels, virgins, ballerinas, Native American deities, peonies, yoga poses, quiet Rocky Mountain streams, San Francisco cable cars and western sunsets.

The overtly religious paintings hung side-by-side with the secular ones like Lu Cong’s The Canary Bride (right, oil, 80×48), a stark minimalist portrait of a young woman with pearls. Granted an observer might argue that Cong’s bride looks a bit virginal. In September 2005, the editors of Southwest Art chose Cong as an emerging artist in our annual 21 Under 31 themed issue.

On Saturday night, the editors at Southwest Art also awarded Cong an award of excellence—it was a tough call with more than 120 wonderful paintings on view. But there was the sense with this award we were bringing our 2005 discovery and introduction of Cong full cycle. Ben McPherson and Dan McCaw received Southwest Art’s two other awards of excellence. The show is on view through Oct. 23.

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