Sep 072011
Authors: Alan Perry

Contemporary art is a weird little thing. It seems to meander and stumble around, making jabs this way and that, as if it’s moving too fast to care about going any direction, just as long as it’s going.

But there’s a fantastic grouping of contemporary artwork that is currently in Fort Collins, and it definitely has a unified approach. The Dicke Collection, which will be at the Fort Collins Museum of Art in Old Town until Nov. 18, has been compiled by James F. Dicke II.

The majority of the collection is made up of paintings, with two ceramic pots and a few drawings here and there. It definitely marginalizes a few mediums – fibers, printmaking, and photography, to name a few – but the whole aesthetic of the collection is still contemporary.

The collection features creations done by 30-year-olds next to the work of 80-year-olds. The styles are all across the board as well. The majority of the paintings fit well into abstract and landscape modes, but there are also beautifully rendered portraits, large and expressive tableaus and smaller life-study sketches.

The scale of the work is almost intimidating; most of the paintings on the first floor are at least six or seven feet tall.

There are a few big names in the show too, including Richard Prince and Will Cotton. I have a huge bone to pick with Prince. While observing his work, I find myself asking the question, “Why? Why are you doing that?” So, I would suggest skipping over his painting, “In Morning,” which is a very large painting consisting of white text over a black, stained background. The text is lifted from one of those joke books that your conservative grandmother keeps in the bathroom. That is to say: it’s not even funny.

Cotton, however, is an artist who is very skilled in his medium. While his paintings are a bit too sugary for me to enjoy personally, his painting “Candy Curls (Melissa),” has been masterfully rendered. It depicts a young girl wearing a white wig that is interspersed with candy and ice cream.

It may remind you of Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” music video, and that’s because Cotton designed the sets for it.

One of my favorite paintings in the exhibit is “Ship of Fools,” by John Alexander – one of the few contemporary artists who makes art as a critique of society. The giant painting takes a page from Hieronymous Bosch’s similarly titled work, and is deeply symbolic. It uses expressive brushwork to render a scene of fools trying to pilot a ship and failing horribly. At the helm is Authority and Greed.

Cost of entry for the FCMoA is now only four dollars for students, so if you’re curious about contemporary art, I would suggest checking it out.

Local Art reviewer Alan Perry can be reached at

 Posted by at 3:16 pm

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.