That's what makes the exhibit "Carte Blanche," currently at the intimate Arthaus gallery, such a pleasant surprise. The show features a trio of Denver painters, Darrell AndersonRon Hicksand Michael Gadlin, and they're clearly bringing out the best in one another.

These artists are well known as independent operators, though lately they've been working as a team, partly as coaches, pushing each other in new directions, and sometimes as direct collaborators, partnering on actual pieces of art.

It's an experiment of sorts among three pals that started about a year ago and will last for another. "Carte Blanche" invites their many fans along on the journey, which so far ranges from pure, old-school representation to fathomless abstraction, with a lot of mixing and matching in between.

Artists can make for great friends, though not necessarily with one another. 

A stylistic mash-up like that would ruin most group shows, and you'd expect as much here, especially when you consider the kind of painting these guys have built reputations upon.