The Colorado Photographic Arts Center (1513 Boulder Street, 303-455-8999) is presenting a theme show with the scientific-sounding title of TRANSMUTATIONS, referring to something that has been changed or altered into something else. In this case, the three artists represented at CPAC -- Marilyn Waligore, Lisa Folino and Marc Berghaus -- all use manipulated images in their photo-based work.

The husband-and-wife team of Skip Kohloff and Lisbeth Neergaard Kohloff, longtime guardians of CPAC's flame, organized the exhibit. "All three [artists] are dark," says Neergaard Kohloff, "and they are all doing what I would call 'transmutations,' working with created, not found, imagery. We thought that visually these three people would hold together, and I think they do." I agree.

Transmutations begins with Waligore's altered silver-gelatin prints taken from digitized negatives. These pieces do strike that dark note, and they set the tone for the show right off the bat. Especially creepy is Waligore's use of a photo of a human skull, but she can also make ordinary household items look ominous. Her photo assemblages are pseudo-symmetrical, with strong central elements dominating the compositions.

Up next are very similar photos by Folino in selenium and gold-toned silver-gelatin prints. Folino creates still-life scenes in which Venetian-style carnivale masks play a central role. The charmingly grotesque masks add an edgy angle to these crisply composed and luxuriously finished prints. One of the many things that link the works of Waligore and Folino is the vaguely Victorian character they embrace.

Berghaus also conjures up the century before last, but not with his images. Instead, he employs sculptural forms that are reminiscent of archaic scientific equipment. The Berghaus sculpture "3 Balls of Nature" (detail above), for example, looks like something out of a history museum, right down to the antique-looking showcase in which it is displayed.

The somewhat goth-flavored Transmutations at CPAC is set to close on May 1.


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