By Show and Tell
By Bree Davies
By Bree Davies
By Cory Casciato
By Emilie Johnson
By Robin Edwards
By Bree Davis
By Josiah M. Hesse
This incorporation of geometry appears all through the show. Another 1930s gelatin silver print identified as "London, England, 1937" is on one level a spontaneous scene of a woman adjusting her stockings while a passing man looks on. But on another level, it's a bold geometric picture, dramatically carried out in lights and darks.
An untitled cibachrome print identified as "Ramp, Chicago, USA, 1948" is one of the exhibit's few color photographs, despite the fact that Berko was an early exponent of the technique. "Ramp" is extremely abstract. From above, Berko shoots a florid, grand staircase with a wide, serpentine banister and places it in the foreground. The checkered floor below it is set at a diagonal, filling the background. The outdoor architectural features are in full sun, which overlights--and thus washes out--the pastel colors of pink, cream, gray and yellow. This use of natural light is another quality in many of Berko's photographs; one of the newest in the show is the gelatin silver print identified as "Pine Forest, Contrlight [sic], California, 1966," in which Berko depicts a grove of trees filtering the blinding rays of the setting sun.
The Berko show at Camera Obscura leaves viewers wanting to see more, especially the recent work of this eighty-something photographer.
The state's historic photography isn't the only kind ignored by the local museums; regional contemporary photography is neglected as well. Another Denver champion of Colorado photography, Carol Keller, is presenting an exciting group show that includes some of the most talked-about locals.
As suggested by its title, Intro II is the second half of a show meant to introduce the stable of artists at Keller's recently opened namesake gallery. In an innovative idea meant to streamline the process, Keller has simply replaced pieces in Intro I with different photos by the same photographers to come up with Intro II. (Don't be surprised to see this approach taken up by other galleries, and if organizers are careful to find work of roughly the same size, the wall-mounted hangers don't even need to be moved.)
With this gallery, Keller's intention is not only to provide a showcase for some notable local talent, but also to feature pieces by internationally known photographers. If some out-of-town photographers are included in Intro II, most of those in the show hail from the immediate Highland neighborhood where the gallery is located--reflecting the fact that many of the city's artists have chosen over the last couple of decades to live in northwest Denver.
Keller, who also lives in the artist-friendly neighborhood, purchased the odd one-story triangular space that houses her showroom just last January and supervised the modest rehabbing of the 1914 building, which overlooks downtown. Constructed originally as a garage, the structure has also served as a ceramics studio, complete with kilns (which have since been removed). The Colorado Photographic Arts Center, a nonprofit advocacy group, rents space from Keller and is mounting shows in two small galleries on the premises. But the majority of the building is devoted to Keller's gallery, which consists of two large rooms, open to one another, a small back gallery and a tiny office.
Intro II is crowded with photographs and other kinds of photo-based work that exemplifies a wide variety of technical approaches.
Among the several photographers interested in primitive image-making are David Sharpe and Grant Leighton. Sharpe, who has a considerable reputation locally for his vanguard views of the Western landscape, is represented by "Full Body Blow," a unique silver print in which the photographer places a desolate prairie scene floating on an indefinite gray field. Leighton, a British immigrant, contributes an untitled gelatin silver print revealing a young masked man surrounded by almost total darkness. (This photo is the only one in Intro II that also appeared in Intro I.)
Other photographers explore more high-tech methods. John Bonath, who's gaining a national following, uses computer programs to make what could be called hypothetical photographs. In the gelatin silver print "Rubbing Two Sticks," Bonath takes a portrait of a uniformed Boy Scout who's holding drumsticks and replaces the kid's skin with what looks like scabrous clay--or maybe even camouflage.
Daniel Salazar's "Cabajito," which combines the image of a rocking horse with that of Geronimo, is a photograph of a photo montage, even if it does look like a computer-generated image. Salazar achieves the seamless surface by photographing his original black-and-white montage with color film (in order to get a rich array of blacks and grays) and then printing it in the Fujichrome process.
While Salazar's photo is technically done in color, it still looks like a black-and-white. Michael Dreiza's "Dana's Dresser," another Fujichrome print, is very different: The bright colors of the crowded scene are lit and toned up to garish levels. The composition is so dense that at first we might not even notice that Dana's feet are a part of the still life.
In another colored photograph, "Horses Near Brush," recognized master Ron Wohlauer captures a landscape; he uses hand-tinting to achieve the painterly quality of this untypical piece.
Keller opened her first gallery, the River Gallery, in 1981, just a block from her current location. Beginning in 1982, she spent sixteen years as the director of the distinguished Emmanuel Gallery on the Auraria campus. These years in the art world have allowed Keller to develop relationships with many of the region's best photographers, something that has obviously stood her in good stead now that she has her own venue again.
Ferenc Berko: Sixty Years of Photography, through December 31, at the Camera Obscura Gallery, 1309 Bannock Street, 303-623-4059.
Intro: Part II, through January 9, at the Carol Keller Gallery, 1513 Boulder Street, #8, 303-455-8999.