Stoppage, now in the main space at Pirate: a contemporary art oasis (3659 Navajo Street, 303-458-6058) is the latest in a long-running series of installation exhibits by Pirate member Richard Colvin and his partner, Katherine Temple.
The piece is unexpectedly spare, considering the pair's typical everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach. Suspended from the ceiling is a huge tree bough that seems to be growing out of the floor. Hanging from it is a gigantic, old-fashioned bathtub-drain stopper that evokes an anchor, because it is tethered to a miniature rowboat that's entangled in the branches. The boat at the top of the room transforms the space into a metaphorical body of water. There's only one false move: the photo projection.
Conor King makes no false moves in his marvelous solo, Sentience, which is handsomely installed in the back Associates' Space. The twenty-something King graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he studied with prominent photographer Alex Sweetman. This student-teacher relationship is apparent in King's six intriguing color photos in light boxes that make up his Pirate show.
In each of the six prints, King depicts a person or persons engaged in some kind of enigmatic activity. None of these actions is stranger than the one shown in "Explorer" (above), in which a young man is suspended by a heavy rope while removing large eggs from a nest. The eggs glow, making them stand out from the background. Highlighting particular parts of his photos by having them glow is a device King uses in most of these shots -- and it's undeniably effective.
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The light boxes provide the only illumination in the space, and that creates a wonderful ambience that's not unlike the atmosphere in a national park visitor center. Also great is King's use of raw wooden frames; their earthiness contrasts wonderfully with the high-tech character of the lighted photos.
Sentience is spectacular and establishes King as one of the area's hottest young photographers. And just think: The so-called Month of Photography doesn't even start until October.
Both Pirate shows close this Sunday, September 12