Scenic Overlook

Community College of Denver takes an academic look at fine-art photography.

Her husband, Skip Kohloff, is the center's longtime president. Along with co-hosting the exhibit, the CPAC is a sponsor of the conference as well.

Down from Kohloff's pieces are two stunning black-and-white landscapes by Ray Whiting, Evening Storm, Needles, Utah and Mount Farfield, Colorado. Both are classic examples of landscape photography in the California tradition. The scenes are imbued with drama; the shades range from the blackest black to the whitest white. Whiting has taught photography at CCD since 1976.

Also fairly traditional -- except that he uses color -- are the landscapes of respected local photographer Eric Paddock. Two of these, Sioux County, Nebraska and Sundown Near Keota, Colorado, are suggestive of paintings because of their murky atmospheres. The third photo, Aurora, Colorado, is quite different, since the subject is the scarred earth being torn up by heavy equipment. Paddock heads the photography department at the Colorado History Museum.

"Tub in Field, Outer Hebrides, Scotland, 1997," by Ron Wohlauer, photo.
"Tub in Field, Outer Hebrides, Scotland, 1997," by Ron Wohlauer, photo.
"Count Basie (Upstairs at the Blue Note)," by Ted Williams, photo.
"Count Basie (Upstairs at the Blue Note)," by Ted Williams, photo.

Up the ramp, in the south gallery, are Weston's and Bayles's photos. Bayles is represented by two erotic female nudes, both in black and white and both untitled. The theatrical lighting and the partial costumes worn by the models lend the images a contemporary, almost fetishistic quality -- but they're too edgy to be pinups. Weston also includes an untitled black-and-white nude, but his approach is to convey a sense of lyrical innocence: This nude is seated in the middle of a plant. His other untitled black-and-white photo focuses on a bouquet of calla lilies being held in a woman's arms.

Nearby are three exquisite black-and-white photos by Wohlauer himself. Two are signature landscape pieces, but one is not what we'd expect. In Tub in Field, Outer Hebrides, Scotland, 1997, Wohlauer takes in the magnificent landscape, but he draws our attention both visually and by his title to the trash-strewn meadow in the foreground. A more pristine scene is captured in Standing Stones, Callainish, Scotland, 1997, in which the monoliths are theatrically lit against a leaden sky. The odd Wohlauer photo is of the rear end of an old English compact car in Morris Minor, Scotland, 1997.

At this point the exhibit continues into the Carol Keller Gallery. On either side of the doorway are small color photos by Kenn Bisio, chairman of the journalism department at Metropolitan State College and a photojournalist for more than 25 years. Wall, Kilkenny, Ireland is an almost completely abstract close-up of a multi-colored wall. Leningrad, which shows an elderly woman walking by a brightly painted brothel entrance, is more in line with Bisio's profession.

William Sutton, who teaches photography at Regis University, explores ecological issues in two pairs of black-and-white photos that examine a natural disaster, the Black Tiger Gulch fire of 1989. Sutton took photos of the charred gulch right after the fire, then took new shots from the same vantage points earlier this year.

Near the Suttons are a trio of photos by one of the biggest names in the show, Bernard Mendoza. Though locally based, Mendoza has pursued an international career as a commercial photographer. He uses a documentary style applied to both public and private moments. In Nation of Islam Speaks, looming guards at a rally in the foreground dominate and frame the podium in the background. In Ann Von Teitzer-Wallace, an elderly woman in evening dress is seen standing next to her bed in her austere nursing-home room.

This conference and its companion exhibit provide viewers with a wonderful and rare chance to see the work of a wide variety of worthwhile fine-art photographers, most of whom work in and around town. The opportunity is a fleeting one, since the conference ends tomorrow -- but there's still time to see the show, which closes this weekend.

On the other side of town, in Cherry Creek, Gallery M is presenting Tone Poems: Portraits of American Jazz by Ted Williams. Williams, who became a professional photojournalist in the late 1940s, did commissions for the magazines Look, Ebony, Time, Newsweek, Down Beat and -- here's the kicker -- Playboy. And it is the fine-art division of Playboy (did you known they had one?) that has recently issued these brand-new prints of his work.

Williams was born in Texas in 1925 and became interested in photography as a child. "My mother was a photography freak," he said while in town for the show's opening last month. "She bought me my own camera when I was eight or nine. I think she did it so I'd keep my hands off hers." That first camera was "a little plastic job, like a Brownie," he adds. "It was called a Uniflex." After a stint in the Coast Guard during World War II, Williams moved to Chicago to study photography at the Institute of Design in 1952. The Institute was the American heir to the Bauhaus, which had relocated from Germany after the famous art school was closed by the Nazis. Williams, who is African-American, noted that at the time, the Institute of Design was racially integrated. Asked if he faced discrimination, Williams says, "Not there. They were from the Bauhaus, which the Nazis closed -- they weren't going to have none of that."

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