It's in the Air

Exhibits at CPAC and Gallery M illuminate the effects of light in different ways.

The silver prints of the "Found Objects" series from the early 1980s directly readdress the concerns he started with in "Spherical Silhouettes." But now, out West, the shadows are more emphatic and almost calligraphic, especially in the case of the one that shows the winter shadow of a bare tree against the sidewalk. The compositions in this series are very abstract, and the actual details of the outdoor scenes are simple enough to recede as key components. The idea of abstract imagery made from actual objects is also seen in "Fabrication Sites," chromogenic prints of construction scenes where the shadows and the objects that cast them make linear and geometric compositions.

The show also includes two open-ended series that Kohloff has been working on for more than ten years: "On a Different Wavelength," made up of hand-tinted infrared silver prints, and "Oaxaca Portfolio," which comprises toned silver prints. "Oaxaca" shows the buildings of the Mexican city and various objects around town ranging from religious statues to folding chairs to a display of women's shoes. There are no people here (or in most of Kohloff's other work). "I like to suggest the presence of people by showing the things they use," he says.

The CPAC exhibit is a revelation, and as Grant has written, Kohloff "has quietly created an important body of work which can only be rivaled by his contributions to the photographic community." I couldn't agree more.

"Cattle Drive No. 8," by Allen Birnbach, toned silver print.
"Cattle Drive No. 8," by Allen Birnbach, toned silver print.
"Cattle Drive No. 8," by Allen Birnbach, toned silver print.
"Cattle Drive No. 8," by Allen Birnbach, toned silver print.


Through June 23, 303-455-8999

The Last Cattle Drive: A Photographic Documentary By Allen Birnbach
Through July 31 at Gallery M, 2830 East Third Avenue, 303-331-8400

Colorado Photographic Arts Center, 1513 Boulder Street

Another transplanted New Yorker, Allen Birnbach, is the subject of his own photo solo, The Last Cattle Drive: A Photographic Documentary by Allen Birnbach, at Cherry Creek's Gallery M. Birnbach may be from Queens, but, as this show reveals, he's obviously gone native since coming to Colorado in 1974.

Gallery M just moved to one of the most distinctive buildings in Cherry Creek, at 2830 East Third Avenue, and gallery owner Myrna Hayutin calls the exhibit "the first picture show at our new space." The distinctive two-story building, designed in the 1960s by Richard Crowther, was originally constructed as the architect's office. Crowther, one of the city's most accomplished modernist architects, is retired.

Sadly, no original details of the building's interior survive save for the fenestration. These nice features include the two oversized, north-facing dormers that flood the gallery's interior with soft light, and the clerestory windows of the atrium, also original to the building. The Birnbach show has been installed in the south gallery just to the left of the staircase entrance and atrium.

For thirteen years, Birnbach has been periodically recording the activities of the Cogan Ranch in the Arkansas Valley, and the show's title refers to the fact that rancher Joe Cogan is retiring. The show includes a candid photo of Cogan.

The results of Birnbach's labors are a series of photographs, some in very large thirty-by-forty-inch formats, that capture the cowboys at the ranch, which is set in the magnificent Western landscape. The atmospheric conditions seem to be Birnbach's true interest, from the dim light of dawn seen in "Winter Feeding No. 10" to the hazy plein-air effects of many other pieces, including "Cattle Drive No. 8," one of the oversized prints.

In "Cattle Drive," a group of four cowboys mounted on horseback are herding cattle in the mid-ground. The low cloud ceiling and the dust being kicked up by the horses and cattle delicately veil the mountains in the distance.

All of the photos were printed by Birnbach himself using a process in which carbamide toner has been employed as a bleaching and redeveloping agent. The results are not unlike sepia-toned photographs, but the carbamide-toned silver prints are brighter and more golden in color.

When I saw the show a few days before it opened, the gallery was in a frenzy of preparation, and remodeling was far from finished. "We'll be done by the opening come hell or high water," Hayutin said. Well, ready or not, they opened last Friday.

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