Out West

Take a look at Colorado Then and Now.

In addition to all of the scenic photos are those of the state's cities and towns. One of the most striking pairs is "Denver Brown Palace Hotel," Jackson's black-and-white from 1911, and "(from the Amoco Building)," Fielder's same view from 1998, also in black and white. In the Jackson, the stately hotel towers over its neighbors; in the Fielder, its neighbors tower over it.

The last parts of the show are the least satisfying. First is a series of three-dimensional photographic works (they were previewed at the Cherry Creek Mall), in which a Jackson and a Fielder have each been cut into strips and laid down on either side of pyramidal moldings mounted in vertical rows -- Jackson's image is visible when the piece is viewed from one side, Fielding's from the other. It's a little gimmicky, if you ask me.

And what about all of the interactive features meant to pique the interest of kids? If kids are scooping up film canisters and putting them onto scales -- the point being to demonstrate the relative weight of glass negatives versus that of modern film -- aren't they, ipso facto, not looking at the photos? Such interactive "educational" devices, which are cropping up everywhere -- not just at the CHM -- seem misguided. They're distractions intended to make exhibits more palatable to the disinterested, and though they may be successful at that, they fail the more thoughtful audience that is put off by the insulting, lowest-common-denominator approach that characterizes the education component of most large shows these days.

Ignore the interactives -- I know I do -- and focus instead on this beautiful, multi-faceted show. And catch it before construction on the CHM begins in January.

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