Photo Play

Camera works are celebrated in shows at the William Havu, Walker and Sandy Carson galleries.

Van Tatenhove's pieces are hardly ethereal. Instead, his jarring juxtaposition of ordinary images in loud colors is very confrontational. Van Tatenhove uses close-ups of faces and objects. The best ones are "Unspoken," with a little boy and an abstract box, and "Dryadic Impulse," with a woman and a chain. Both pieces are digital images in crystal archive prints. The paired images are somewhat narrative, but it's very hard to say just exactly what Van Tatenhove means. His use of color, subtle in places, bold in others, gives his work a neo-pop sensibility. The young Fort Collins artist has shown around Denver over the past couple of years, and I've been impressed by his work in various group shows. However, Vapor marks the first time I've seen more than just a few.

Scott's sculptures do not, of course, follow the photo theme, but they were used to fill up the open spaces in the cavernous Walker. Made of fabricated and cast aluminum with panels of heavy slag glass, they're are all essentially the same, being made in the form of flat steles mounted on cylindrical poles that are anchored onto rectilinear bases. Despite the use of aluminum and glass, these pieces are not sleek: The metal has a dull sheen, and the glass is crazed. Oh, and they don't stand up straight.

The works of Griffin, Van Tatenhove and Scott are individually interesting -- but not as a group.

"Unspoken," by jsun Van Tatenhove, digital image in 
crystal archive print.
"Unspoken," by jsun Van Tatenhove, digital image in crystal archive print.
"You Again?" by Randy Brown, archival carbon 
pigment inkjet print.
"You Again?" by Randy Brown, archival carbon pigment inkjet print.


Through October 16, William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360

Through November 6, Walker Fine Art, 300 West 11th Avenue, #A, 303-355-8955

Through October 16, Sandy Carson Gallery, 760 Santa Fe Drive, 303-573-8585

Leave it to William Biety, director of the Sandy Carson Gallery, to pull off a cogent group show, as he's done in PHOTO-OP, despite juggling the work of more than half a dozen artists. He gave the artists their own discrete spaces by cleverly using the gallery's moveable walls and arranging them so that the work of each artist subtly segues into that of the next, using perceivable similarities to link them.

The first space beyond the entryway includes a group of Carol Golemboski's "Psychometry" series of toned silver gelatin prints. These photos are somewhat creepy and have an enigmatic narrative content, which is implicit in the series title. They look sort of like nineteenth-century photos, an effect Golemboski achieves with elaborate darkroom manipulations and the use of drawing. The simple, iconic images -- one of a little sweater, another of a pair of wooden boot stays on a staircase and so on -- suggest the realm of fantasy, though they are not exactly whimsical. This line that divides fantasy from whimsy links them to the collaborative pieces by Rimma Gerlovina and Valeriy Gerlovin, which are hung right around the corner. In these signature C-prints, Gerlovina is both a model and a prop, with drawing and set-dressing used to create surrealistic scenes, such as one of the artist's head in a centerpiece as though it were a bunch of fruit.

Bracketing these on the two adjacent walls is the work of internationally famous Manitou Springs photographer Andrea Modica. On the south wall are a group of untitled pieces from her "Fountain" series, depicting the members of a rural family in Southern Colorado. These are the kinds of psychological scenes that made Modica famous. On the opposite wall are landscapes, which are less immediately identifiable as her work.

Up in the front corner are several color digital prints by Stephen Roach, a number of which have been published in the New Yorker. They are horizontal montages that typically include a young female model. Roach assembles separate photos and combines them in single prints. The resulting pieces definitely refer to pop art, especially "Decoy," in which the woman, her head cropped out of the frame, is in the top half, with a separate shot of two open kitchen drawers in the bottom.

Back beyond the Modica landscapes are nature-based images by Frank Hunter and oddball landscapes by Jeff Hersch. Hunter takes close-ups of flowers and blows them up to maximize their formal qualities. On one wall is a group of laboratory silver prints; on another, digitally made ones. The Hersches are in their own small gallery. These photos of unusual scenes -- none stranger than the salt domes depicted in "Salt, Solar de Ilieni, Bolivia" -- have a monumental quality, but only partly because they're so large. The rest of the story is that Hersch's black-and-white compositions are extremely simple, which contributes to their strong presence.

PHOTO-OP at Sandy Carson is a dynamite show. Seeing it, along with the interesting Photography exhibition at William Havu and the intriguing Vapor at Walker, would be the perfect way to spend an afternoon enjoying a tiny part of Denver's first-ever "Month of Photography."

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