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Crowded house


The advertising given for the Fine Arts Center Modern's current show, Faces in the Crowd: Portraiture from the Permanent Collection of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, is misleading. The images don't even hint at what's hanging in the galleries.

That's a good thing, though; this show is much more than what you might expect.

It seems as if the FAC has banked on the dry conception of "portraiture" to surprise the audience. Portraiture, according to curators Blake Milteer and Tariana Navas-Nieves, is not just paintings of formal sitters from a hundred years ago, but portrayals of everything human and beyond. The term encompasses artwork featuring animals, emotions, communities and deities in styles that range from precise lithography to traditional oil on canvas. And each of these makes an appearance at this exhibit.

The first two galleries in the Modern house all the contemporary works from the collection. Works by locals such as Floyd Tunson and the late Lou Tilley, mingle with works by other famous artists such as James Wyeth and Paul Cadmus (whose work, "Study for David and Goliath," the FAC flaunts shamelessly at this show).

While a few pieces, like Cadmus', are definite crowd favorites, the FAC has unearthed much more to fill out this collection. The number of works under the FAC umbrella is astounding; if nothing else, this show teases the audience with just how much more they can expect to see from the museum's permanent collection in the future.

And the walls really are covered here, more so than normally at an FAC show. The effect is disarming. The viewer doesn't feel the pressure to stare at an image and force out some meaning. Instead, in this setting, the viewer feels free to hop from piece to piece.

Curators Milteer and Navas-Nieves have also paired these clustered visuals with a vibrant teal wall color. Though this was the same paint used for the Frida Kahlo show, it seems contoured perfectly for this show, helping illuminate the colors of the works on display. And, as Milteer explains, it's also a traditional convention: In early-20th-century galleries, works were hung over deep maroon or jungle green walls.

There's also a third room in play. And though this last gallery space in the Modern is reserved for traditional portrait works, it, too, manages to evade boredom. Navas-Nieves gives it a twist by pulling works from the museum's southwestern Taylor Collection. In utilizing these works, she contributes retablos (paintings on boards) and boltos (sculptures).

By virtue of being so thorough in offering its viewers the many faces of portraiture, Faces in the Crowd can please both advanced art patrons and beginning gallery visitors. And while it could be considered a classic art show, it's one the likes of which you may not see again. Capsule:

Faces in the Crowd: Portraiture from the Permanent Collection of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center

FAC Modern, 121 S. Tejon St., #100

Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursdays through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., through Jan. 20

Tickets: $6.75 to $7.50; call 634-5581 or visit for more.

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