An additional important feature of the exhibit is the inclusion of many Colorado photographers, and I thought this was great — if not wholly unexpected, coming from a curator who spent most of his career at the CHS. "The show proves that Colorado work can stand side by side with international material, and if the show had just been about Colorado photography, you wouldn't see that," notes Paddock. There are many Colorado photographers whom Paddock would like to see in the collection, but he would only name them off the record. "I don't want their prices to go up, because I want them," he says with a laugh. Interestingly, one Colorado artist is absent from the exhibit, though the DAM has a large collection of his work. That would be Herbert Bayer. "Leaving Bayer out was not an oversight," says Paddock, "but I felt that his photos had been seen at the museum before, and I wanted to focus on works that hadn't been seen before."
One of the Colorado photographers included is Kevin O'Connell; his "Untitled (CE-901)," a color digital print on aluminum, is one of the genuine standouts in Exposure. Though it is clearly a landscape, the forms of the structure in it are orchestrated into a constructivist abstraction. It is part of O'Connell's extensive exploration of energy sources that were exhibited last summer at Robischon Gallery and at MCA Denver.
"Untitled (CE-901)," by Kevin O'Connell, color ink-jet print on aluminum.
"Saint Michael," by Wes Kennedy, gelatin silver print with acrylic and mixed mediums.
Other artists associated with Colorado who appear in Exposure include Ruth Thorne-Thomsen, Ronald Wohlauer, Robert Adams, Laura Gilpin, George Woodman and Wes Kennedy. The Kennedy photo montage, "Saint Michael," was acquired right before the show opened. Kennedy, who died from AIDS in 1993, was a gifted artist who took on the big topics of life, sex and death. In this piece, all three issues are combined in a wrinkled clutch of photos that have been touched up with acrylics and mixed mediums.
I guess it could be said that it's about time the DAM got around to giving photography star billing. On the other hand, that means Paddock is just beginning, so we've got a lot more great stuff to look forward to.