Art Review


Dutch Walla has been taking photos for over fifty years, beginning as a protegé of the late Denver photographer Otto Roach and eventually taking over the older man's processing business, Roach Photography. Now, at the age of 75, Walla has turned the day-to-day operations of Roach Photography over to his sons Jay and Dennis. To fill the time, Walla launched Gallery Roach (860 Broadway, 303-839-5202) last year to display and sell his and Roach's photos.

The current show, Colorado in Color, is a solo of Walla's color work. Walla, like Roach before him, is best known for his black-and-white photos, but he's been interested in color, too, since the 1960s. "I did this show because I wanted people to know that I did more than just black and white," Walla says.

Most of the photos in Colorado in Color date from the 1960s to 1986, when Walla took a hiatus from shooting. However, last year he began to take photos again, and there are a few brand-new pieces in the show. Walla credits opening the gallery as the catalyst for his return to photography. "It brought me back to life," he says.

Walla's color photos, which are optical prints, not digital ones, have a majestic character that befits their subjects, the Rocky Mountains. There are picturesque views of Bridal Veil Falls, the Garden of the Gods, the Maroon Bells and many other famous sites. What links all the photos is Walla's interest in dramatic lighting. "Lighting is all of it," he muses. "You can't change it, and you can't move the son-of-a-gun. You can't move the mountain." In a photo such as "Molas Lake and Gunadier Range," Walla decided the ideal condition was high noon with barely a shadow in sight.

Colorado in Color at Gallery Roach was originally set to close on December 1 but has since been extended through December 12.

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Michael Paglia is an art historian and writer whose columns have appeared in Westword since 1995; his essays on the visual arts have also been published in national periodicals including Art News, Architecture, Art Ltd., Modernism, Art & Auction and Sculpture Magazine. He taught art history at the University of Colorado Denver.
Contact: Michael Paglia