The Society for Photographic Education (www.spenational.org) will hold its 45th annual national conference at the Adam's Mark Hotel this weekend, bringing about a thousand professionals in photo-based occupations to town.
It's too late to register, but there are limited day and sessions passes available, as well as an Exhibits Fair — free and open to the public — that includes displays by educators, publishers and manufacturers. There's also an online juried show featuring the work of fifty SPE members selected by the Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins (see a display at www.c4fap.org). The top ten pieces from that virtual show will be presented in a real exhibit at the CFAP gallery in its new location in the Poudre River Arts Center (400 North College Avenue, Fort Collins, 1-970-224-1010).
Meant to coincide with the conference is Denver's Month of Photography, a cavalcade of photo shows up for the rest of March (see http://303photo.blogspot.com). Fine-art photographer, arts advocate and gallery owner Mark Sink has long attempted to establish a photo festival in Denver, and while the Month of Photography doesn't precisely qualify, it does get us closer to that goal. Sink worked with Rachel Hawthorn and Sabin Aell to encourage galleries to mount photo-based exhibits, and the idea took off so that even places not known for art exhibits at all have gotten into the act.
I haven't seen anything like this since 2000, when the late Rodger Lang sparked the organization of dozens of ceramics shows at a variety of venues to coincide with the National Council on Education in the Ceramics Arts conference in Denver.
Some of the shows had been organized before the Month of Photography idea was on the table and simply climbed on board, but most are being presented specifically as part of this event.
Within walking distance of the conference is Ordinary Miracles: Photographs by Lou Stoumen, at Camera Obscura Gallery (1309 Bannock Street, 303-623-4059, www.cameraobscuragallery.com), the city's oldest and most revered photo specialist. Stoumen made his reputation on the eve of World War II, and later as a U.S. Army photographer during the war. In the late 1940s, he moved from the East Coast to California, where he became a filmmaker, winning three Academy Awards for his documentaries. He died in 1991. The show is a retrospective of his entire career.
Across the street, in the Byers-Evans House Museum (1310 Bannock Street, 303-620-4933, www.coloradohistory.org), is Myron Wood: Photographs of the West, highlighting the work of one of the most important photographers to have ever worked in Colorado. Wood had already been a protegé of Edward Weston when he moved here in 1947, working as a professional photographer and curator at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and Colorado College. Privately, he carried out several series based on the people and scenery of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico. In this way, he built many relationships that gave him special access to secretive or elusive people and organizations such as Georgia O'Keeffe and the Penitente Brotherhood, a covert organization of Catholic men.
One block east is the Denver Public Library (10 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-1821), which is jointly presenting Photography 171: A Continuum of Process and Method with the Colorado Photographic Arts Center (www.colophotoartscenter.org), an advocacy group that sponsors exhibitions. The show pairs historic photos from the library's collection, by the likes of John K. Hillars and William Henry Jackson, with contemporary photos done in the same methods by Kevin O'Connell, Gary Lynch and a raft of others. It's on view in the Western History Gallery on the fifth floor of the Central Library.
Across Broadway, at the Colorado History Museum (1300 Broadway, 303-866-3682, www.coloradohistory.org), is a group show that looks at an area of southern Colorado that could be taken over by the Army for a bombing range. Contested Lands: Photographs Around the Picket Wire includes photos by Scott Engel, Thomas Neff, Kevin O'Connell, James Peterson and Charles Walters. Meanwhile, the Art Institute of Colorado (1200 Lincoln Street, 303-653-7648) is presenting Elements of Photography, with work by Alexey Titarenko, Michal Macku and Alexandre Orion from a book of the same title that was edited by Angela Faris-Belt.
In the Golden Triangle is the cozy Michele Mosko Fine Art (136 West 12th Avenue, 303-534-5433, www.michelemoskofineart.com), currently presenting Huang Yan Photography. Huang, a contemporary Chinese artist, combines the figure and the landscape, and works with his wife, Zhang Tiemei, to produce surrealistically altered images. In the same area, Walker Fine Art (300 West 11th Avenue, 303-355-8955, www.walkerfineart.com) has Photography, which highlights Robert Bueltman, Bonny Lhotka, Jimmy Sellars, the Corvo Brothers and Sabin Aell. The William Havu Gallery (1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360, www.williamhavugallery.com) is showing In the Woods, a Gunnar Plake solo made up of elegant gauzy color views of trees and natural scenes mounted on aluminum panels. Gallery Roach (860 Broadway, 303-839-5202), which always has something interesting on display, brings out solid work by a couple of old masters in the medium in Landscape Photography by Dutch Walla and Otto Roach.
There's a lot to see in LoDo, too, including Out of Place, at Robischon Gallery (1740 Wazee Street, 303-298-7788, www.robischongallery.com), which stars an international cast of artists such as Chi Peng, Denis Darzacq, Teun Hocks, Kahn + Selesnick, Li Wei, Liu Bolin, Wang Ningde, Xing Danwen, William Lamson and Gary Emrich. Next door, at Metro State's Center for Visual Art (1734 Wazee Street, 303-294-5207, www.mscd.edu/news/cva), is Still, wherein three nationally prominent artists, Sally Mann, Slater Bradley and Nigel Poor, are each given a virtual solo.
Also in LoDo is Denver's Museum of Contemporary Art (1485 Delgany Street, 303-298-7554, www.mcadenver.org), where three shows relevant to photography were already in place. The first is Collier Schorr's Jens F., made up of photo-based pieces featuring a cute teenage boy. Across the corridor is Yu-Cheng Chou, which comprises videos and digital prints, and upstairs are photographs of scale models in Jasper de Beijer.
Central Denver also has a cluster of galleries, including Rule Gallery (227 Broadway, 303-777-9473, www.rulegallery.com), which is hosting The Simple Truth with regional photo artists Rebecca Dolan, Katie Taft, Rachel Hawthorn, Ellen Yeiser and Anna Newell. At Open Press (40 West Bayaud Avenue, 303-778-1116, www.openpressltd.com), there's Contemporary Photogravures, with examples by Lynn Heitler, Mark Lunning, Mark Sink and others.
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On the city's principal gallery row, the Santa Fe ArtDistrict, the flagship venue, Sandy Carson Gallery (760 Santa Fe Drive, 303-573-8585, www.sandycarsongallery.com), has a solo together with a large group show. The solo is Wonders & Marvels, which represents Carol Golemboski's most recent series of works, in which she draws on negatives and uses vegetable dyes to create hybrids of photos and paintings. The group show, with work from Marc Berghaus, Rimma & Valeriy Gerlovin, Gwen Laine and Andrea Modica, is called Exposed. Down the block, at the tiny Sandra Phillips Gallery (744 Santa Fe Drive, 303-573-5969, www.thesandraphillipsgallery.com), is Critical Encounters — The Work of Todd Walker, a lifetime retrospective dedicated to photographer Melanie Walker's father. Across the street, Space Gallery (765 Santa Fe Drive, 720-904-1088, www.spacegallery.org) is presenting three shows, Randall Bellows III — Nights Alone; Greg Friedler — Havana; and Liu Wei and Sheng Qi — Photographs and Video.
There are a number of Month of Photography shows in the outlying areas, but I'll only mention two. At the University of Denver's Victoria H. Myhren Gallery (2121 East Asbury Avenue, 303-871-3716, www.du/edu/art/myhrengallery.htm) is On the Road, Photography of the Soviet Empire, featuring the works of Semyon Fridlyand, whose archive is held by DU. Perhaps the most unusual show is Glass and Photography at Pismo Fine Art Glass (2770 East Second Avenue, 303-333-2879, www.pismoglass.com), which pairs Elizabeth Mears and Nicole Ayliffe, glass artists who incorporate photographic methods in their work.
Given space constraints, it was impossible for me to mention all of the photo shows, so instead I just focused on the most promising or unusual ones.