Summertime Views

Photography is a hot topic right now in the area.

Photography is unavoidably linked to the summer, because nearly everyone takes a camera along on vacation. This point was brought home to me last week when, stopped at the light at Colfax Avenue and Lincoln Street, I saw a group of Buddhist monks in traditional robes taking snapshots of one another posed next to the cannon on the west lawn of the State Capitol Building.

Maybe this association was the subliminal impulse behind the high number of photo shows in the area this summer. Or maybe it's just the increasing presence of that medium in the art world. One thing is certain -- it's always worth the trouble to see a Hal Gould show, even if you have to drive all the way to the Foothills Art Center in Golden.

The show, installed in the Metsopoulos Gallery and the small gallery next to it, is called Fire & Ice -- Photographs of the Southwest and Antarctica by Hal Gould. "The pairing of the two different bodies of work gave me the idea for the show's title; it just had to be called Fire and Ice," says Foothills director Carol Dickinson with a laugh. Dickinson organized the show.

"Shiprock," by Hal Gould.
"Shiprock," by Hal Gould.

Details

Through August 12, 303-279-3922

Seven-Point Perspective: Photography From the Denver Salon
Through September 2
Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway
720-865-5000

The Photography Show
Through August 4
William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street
303-893-2360

Foothills Art Center, 809 15th Street, Golden

The octogenarian Gould, a longtime commercial photographer, curator and gallery director, in addition to being a fine-art photographer, has been a key part of this region's photo scene for nearly fifty years. In spite of this, his work was rarely exhibited until lately. At his own gallery, Camera Obscura, which he opened in 1980, Gould has presented his own work only once, last year.

Dickinson starts the show with the Fire part, which includes photos set in the Santa Fe and Taos areas and a few set in Colorado. Many date back to the 1950s and '60s, but some were done in the '90s. Though Gould has created experimental photos over the years, his best pieces are the traditional ones, and that's what's in the show for the most part.

Gould often takes the classic black-and-white approach made famous by the likes of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, in which the subject is treated iconographically. The earliest of these photos depict ranching life as seen in 1953's "Round-Up" and 1954's "Going Home." Both reflect not only Gould's aesthetic sensibilities but his background: Gould was born on a ranch in Wyoming and grew up on one in New Mexico. More clearly within the tradition of his stylistic mentors is "Taos Pueblo Ovens and Ladders," done in 1960, and "Shiprock, New Mexico," from 1986.

The Ice portion of the show is installed in the small corridor that connects the Metsopoulos Gallery to the rest of Foothills. But the photos, views of Antarctica, look good even in these tight accommodations. The pieces record two trips to the South Pole that Gould undertook just last year -- when he was eighty. He took a cruise on the Orient Line's Marco Polo, a former icebreaker. The ship was equipped with helicopters, so Gould was able to take photos inland as well as from shipboard.

A real standout is the stunning "Expeditionary Crew Scouting Possible Landing Site, Antarctica," which concerns, despite the title, a majestic, unidentified mountain peak in the background with icy water in the foreground. Less successful are the shots of penguins combined with written music.

But Gould is not only the subject of a solo at Foothills right now; he is also curating a show called Hal Gould Invites...10 Colorado Photographers, which is on view in the Waelchli Gallery. Most of the ten chosen artists have exhibited at Camera Obscura, including Golden's Teri O'Neill and Boulder's James Balog.

A surprise inclusion is Denver's Mark Sink, the director of his own photo space, Gallery Sink, and the founder and guiding force behind the Denver Salon, a loose association of contemporary photographers. This is relevant because the Denver Salon is itself the subject of a show at the Denver Art Museum. SevenPoint Perspective: Photography From the Denver Salon is in the Merage Gallery, which has been relocated from the first floor to the seventh floor.

The show, which closes in early September, was organized by Nancy Tieken, the well-known associate curator in the DAM's modern and contemporary department. Tieken holds a caretaker's role in the department's photo section while a replacement is found for Jane Fudge, the former photo specialist who left the DAM last summer. (Fudge, who now lives in Portland, Oregon, will temporarily return to town this fall to curate a show at Denver's Museum of Contemporary Art.)

Instead of building a survey representative of the approximately two dozen current members of the Denver Salon, and the dozen or so who have come and gone over the last ten years, Tieken elected to sample only seven. This decision, intelligent and considered as it was, has caused hurt feelings among those who were left out, but it was inevitable for several reasons: Not every member of the Denver Salon produces credible work consistently, because credentials for membership are essentially social as opposed to aesthetic. Plus, given the space constraints of the Merage Gallery, there just wasn't room for everyone.

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