This year marks a brand-new start for Month of Photography Denver, free from pandemic restrictions that were in place when the Colorado Photographic Arts Center inherited leadership of the citywide biennial in 2021.
“This year, people are very excited and eager to get back together,” says CPAC spokeswoman Megan Ross. She and her colleagues at the center learned a lot in that more leisurely year of organizing logistics, when many events moved online. But in the interim, people learned how to use the informational website, sizable new grants from the NEA and SCFD arrived, and close to 72 Front Range spaces signed up to host 147 shows and events.
Ross is excited about some trends she’s tracking this year, beginning with a proliferation of solo shows by women, sometimes in multiples within a single gallery. And women are pioneering new paths in photography and resurrecting old ones, creating sensitive special effects and imagery that makes viewers ask, “How’d they do that?” When it comes to digital or analog, more often than not, people are choosing to use both.
Analog is making a comeback as a part of the contemporary photographer’s toolbox, and people with cameras are following environmental themes, as well as the problems of a growing group of marginalized communities; Indigenous, BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ are just a few of them. And if you want to see what the younger generation is up to, there are several student shows up and worth a look.
And what’s up at CPAC after it’s all over? “We’re going to move,” says Ross. The dates aren’t solidified yet, but the center will be moving to new digs at 1200 Lincoln Street sometime in the spring.
It’s big, but we’ve tried to be comprehensive in choosing our picks. There’s truly something for everyone in MoP 2023’s schedule, and don’t hesitate to access the superbly informational website for the full slate. Meanwhile, here are our Month of Photography picks for 2023:
Shows Opening in March
Meditative Transformation: Lauri Dunn
Valkarie Gallery, 445 South Saulsbury Street, Lakewood
Wednesday, March 1, through April 2
Opening Reception: Friday, March 3, 5 to 8:30 p.m.
For Lauri Dunn, there is no such thing as a homogenous image of a butterfly wing. She looks for patterns, texture and colorful pictures designed by nature while preparing to integrate them into sculptural works. Whether these images end in a single photo or as several folded up together into origami-like structures, Dunn presents their natural beauty in kaleidoscopic shapes and colors, finishing them off with metallic resin.
Denver Collage Club
Alto Gallery, RiNo ArtPark, 1900 35th Street, Suite B
Friday, March 3, through April 1
Opening Reception/Matilda Marginal Fashion Performance: Friday, March 3, 6 to 10 p.m.
The Denver Collage Club, active for the past ten years as a rotating salon of artists who cut and paste or digitally rearrange imagery, has become an essential piece of MoP both for the imaginative results of its mix-and-match creations and as a close-knit community. The brainchild of Mark Sink, the father of MoP, and elegant collage artist Mario Zoots, the show returns with works by more than fifty past and present members, in partnership with Alto Gallery. Come to the First Friday reception and discover local designer Matilda Marginal, who collages together interesting garments full of unexpected angles and folds. She’ll be hosting a runway show like nothing you've seen before.
Shafts of Grace, through March 14
Emma Powell, Rain or Shine, Living Room Gallery, through April 30
Bell Projects, 2822 East 17th Avenue
Opening Reception: Friday, March 3, 6 to 10 p.m.
In its main gallery, Bell Projects will host photographer Jeffrey Hersch, a former world traveler who shoots when the right opportunity comes up. Hersch isn’t looking for staged or complicated scenes, but prefers for images to unfold on their own in a visceral, natural way. In the Living Room space, Emma Powell experiments with hands-on light- and chemical-based techniques, including photograms, cyanotypes and kallitypes.
Julia Vandenoever, Being Grayson
Access Gallery, 909 Santa Fe Drive
Friday, March 3, through March 31
Opening Reception: Friday, March 3, 6 to 9 p.m.
Meet the Artists/Artist Talks: Friday, March 17, 6 to 8 p.m.
You won’t find another documentary-style photography show more powerful than Julia Vandenoever’s Being Grayson, a photographic diary relating the day-to-day life of her neurodivergent son Grayson, who lives with ADHD and dyslexia. Julia takes the pictures, but Grayson writes gut responses to them, which are displayed with the images. Grayson also supplies art projects, letters and to-do lists. It’s a small story in a world of big events, but the mother-child connection is strong. For Access Denied, resident teaching artists Ron Davis and Andre Rodriguez worked with Access artists with disabilities, sending them out into the city to document their experiences on the street.
Resilience and Resistance / Our Backs Hold Our Stories: Photographs by Kali Spitzer
East Window, 4550 Broadway, Suite C-3B2, Boulder
Friday, March 3, through June 28
Opening Reception: Friday, March 3, 7 to 9 p.m.
Artist Talk: Wednesday, March 22, 7 p.m.
Indigenous and queer, Kali Spitzer is Kaska Dena on her father’s side, from Daylu (Lower Post), British Columbia, on the Yukon border. She seeks to document her intersectional Indigenous and BIPOC culture with an honest eye, untouched by the skewed colonial viewpoint. While the lens is modern, the resulting images tell stories as old as time. The East Window, viewable from the outside looking in, presents work from two series. Under the tutelage of Navajo photographer Will Wilson, known for utilizing both historical and modern techniques to create Indigenous portraits free of stereotypes, Spitzer has developed a sensitive practice that will grab your heart.
Looking Back, Moving Forward: Permanent Collection Highlights
Colorado Photographic Arts Center, 1070 Bannock Street
Through April 15
Opening Reception and MoP Kickoff: Saturday, March 4, 5 to 8 p.m.
In-Person Gallery Tour With Samantha Johnston: Thursday, March 9, 1 p.m.
When it comes down to must-see, CPAC’s Looking Back, Moving Forward is like a primer in great photographic moments, focusing on 45 prints culled from a museum-worthy collection of more than 800. Who will you see on the walls? Superstars of photography, including Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Philippe Halsman, Andre Kertesz, Judy Dater and many more, as well as a healthy showing of Colorado’s best, including too many to mention here. The reception doubles as MoP's official kickoff, but don’t overlook the exhibition tour with CPAC top dog and curator Samantha Johnston on March 9.
“typed live, excuse errors”: A Mark Sink Retrospective,
the Interconnected World of Family, Community and Art
RedLine Contemporary Art Center, 2350 Arapahoe Street
Saturday, March 11, through April 9
Opening Reception: Saturday, March 11, 6 to 9 p.m.
Walk and Talk Lecture with Mark Sink: Saturday, April 1, noon to 1 p.m.
MoP gifted Mark Sink with a retrospective that aims to cover disparate yet unifying eras in the artist’s life and career, from his rich family history and the underground Denver scene of the ’70s and ’80s to his Andy Warhol era in Manhattan. You'll also see the roots of MCA Denver, which he shaped and realized with cohort Marina Graves, as well as what it’s like to be nuts enough to visualize and bring to fruition the Month of Photography and its sidekick, The Big Picture. You’ll meet characters from Sink’s family tree and from his life adventures, as well as important souls who’ve come and gone from Denver’s cultural world. If you’re looking for a happening during MoP, this is it.
Shadow Banned: Photographs by Shadows Gather
Leon Gallery, 1112 East 17th Avenue
Saturday, March 11, through April 22
Opening Reception: Saturday, March 11, 7 to 11 p.m.
No less scene-worthy is this X-rated collection from the photographer known as Shadows Gather, who captures scenes and people from the nightlife underworld with a keen eye for its diversity and fringe lifestyle quirks. These are censored party photos of marginalized female, LGBTQ+ and Black communities, deemed too dangerous for social media or gallery walls simply because they veer from societal norms. In addition to a collection of more than a thousand Instax images, Shadows Gather has blown up some of her most iconic, uncensored photos from the fringe to enhance every lurid detail.
Among the Stars: New Works by Angela Faris Belt
Of Light and Wind: Trade Winds: New Work by Gwen Laine
Sun to Earth: Photography by Brenda Biondo
Michael Warren Contemporary, 760 Santa Fe Drive
Saturday, March 14, through April 15
Opening Reception: Thursday, March 16, 5 to 8 p.m.
Michael Warren Contemporary mounts exhibitions by three experimental women photographers — Angela Faris Belt, Gwen Laine and Brenda Biondo — who use special techniques to create otherworldly effects. The trio makes a fine companion to Air of the Ancients, now on view at the Artworks Center for Contemporary Art in Loveland. At Michael Warren, Belt, who has work in both shows, overlays satellite images with scanned ashes representing loss, while Laine begins with the ordinary before using experimental techniques to tweak those images into something abstract and extraordinary. Biondo monkeys with light effects by placing manipulated sheets of white paper on the ground and photographing the shadows they reflect in conjunction with the landscape. Other works by Biondo are inspired by effects seen inside the James Turrell Skyspace in Green Mountain Falls.
Exit Paradise: Sherry Wiggins and Luis Branco / Kristen Hatgi Sink and Mark Sink
Seidel City, 3205 Longhorn Road, Boulder
Saturday, March 18, through April 30
Opening Reception: Saturday, March 18, 5 to 9 p.m.
Artist Talk: Saturday, April 15, 2 to 4 p.m.
Closing Party: Sunday, April 30, 3 to 6 p.m.
Seidel City showcases imagery of the human body for Exit Paradise, beginning with the ongoing performative photographic series by interdisciplinary artist Sherry Wiggins, who takes on the personas of great women artists and other feminist characters through history, and photographer Luis Branco, who documents her poses. The results are startling, inspiring and dramatic. Wiggins has been channeling Cleopatra and the Egyptian goddess Isis lately; past subjects include a fascinating series on the gender-fluid surrealist Claude Cahun, and a piece on avant-garde filmmaker Maya Deren. Seidel City will also be showing work by Mark Sink, Kristen Hatgi Sink’s video installation “Bon Bon” and a collaborative project with Jillian FitzMaurice.
Shows Already on View
The Big Picture
Ongoing through 2025
Locations in Denver, Boulder and Beyond
The Big Picture, an ongoing international project spearheaded by Mark Sink, began in 2009, when the idea of wheat-pasting prints of fine art photography on alley walls was still something artists did undercover. It’s really a never-ending effort, but it runs biennially in tandem with Month of Photography. And in 2023, it fits right in with the city’s multiplying murals, wall projections and art drops. Sink and friends have beautified walls all over Denver, and this year’s batch is in mid-installation here, in Boulder and around the world.
Andrew Beckham, A Cloud of Unknowing Apparitions and Manifestations
Michael Warren Contemporary Art, 760 Santa Fe Drive
Through March 11
Reception and Artist Talk: Thursday, March 9, 5 to 8 p.m.
It’s hard to tell the photographic images from the charcoal drawings in photographer Andrew Beckham’s show at Michael Warren Contemporary, which is up through March 11. Beckham, an experienced technical mountaineer, starts with views from the highest pinnacles that few people will ever get to see in person, photographed in highly detailed black and white. His drawings are equally textured, capturing mountaintop mists, changes in light and rocky slopes. On top of that, he scatters mica dust to capture the sparkle of sunlight between the shadows on treacherous peaks above the treeline. The effects are otherworldly and inspirational. See it while you can, perhaps on March 9, when Beckham gives an artist talk at the gallery.
Rough Gems: The Ultimate Boon
Union Hall Gallery, The Coloradan, 1750 Wewatta Street, Suite 144
Through March 18
Curatorial Talk: Tale of Boons: Thursday, March 9, 7 to 9 p.m.
Union Hall has quickly established itself as a space that encourages experimentation, new media and artists from marginalized communities. The Ultimate Boon is not only part of its annual Rough Gems curatorial opportunities, but it also joins the roster for Month of Photography. Selected guest curators Nadiya Jackson and Florence Blackwell came up with an unusual challenge to artists: to express how art has transformed their lives for the better — hence the unusual title. The five selected photographers used the challenge to share high points in their careers and in their personal lives.
Bill Adams: One Man Show
Emmanuel Art Gallery, 1205 10th Street Plaza, Auraria Campus
Through March 19
CU Denver’s Emmanuel Gallery pays tribute to an alum of its College of Arts & Media: performative photographer Bill Adams. Adams inserts his own image into inspired, storytelling photo-collage works mounted on cardboard, which he then re-photographs — sometimes mixing metaphors from pop culture with philosophical, political and art-history references, all in a single work. It’s like finding the leprechauns in dioramas at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science while trapped in a house of mirrors. How many great minds and creatives through time will you recognize on the walls?
Center for Visual Art, MSU Denver, 965 Santa Fe Drive
Through March 25
Artist Talk with Amy Hoagland: Friday, March 9, 5 p.m.
The CVA tackles environmental conundrums in Entanglements, a group exhibition that explores the human attraction to nature in the face of environmental breakdown and sends a call to action to stop it. Some works by the eleven participating artists will make your heart break at the damage civilization continues to wreak on the planet; others will hint at how it can be repaired.
Natascha Seideneck, Melanie Walker and Angela Faris Belt, Air of the Ancients
Artworks Center for Contemporary Art, 310 North Railroad Avenue, Loveland
Through April 1
Virtual Artist Talk: Saturday, March 11, 2 p.m.
A three-way project by Angela Faris Belt, Natascha Seideneck and Melanie Walker, all artists who create work incorporating contemporary, experimental and alternative photographic processes in mixed-media visuals and installations, Air of the Ancients is a warning that new discoveries and inventions are disturbing the ancient harmony of the air, land and water. Expect great beauty and a sense of loss while strolling this powerful show.
Kei Ito, The Beginning, in the land around me
Griffin Foundation Gallery, Gregory Allicar Museum of Art, 1400 Remington Street, CSU campus, Fort Collins
Through April 2
Photographer Kei Ito was born in Japan and will be forever haunted by what he calls his own “nuclear heritage.” His grandfather’s eventual death by cancer as a “downwinder,” after his body absorbed radiation from the atomic bomb that disintegrated Hiroshima in 1945, provides the impetus for The Beginning, in the Land Around Me, on view at CSU's Allicar Museum. The exhibition comprises five related projects Ito completed over the past three years; they follow in the footsteps of his grandfather’s anti-nuke activism that lasted until he died, when Ito was ten. Profound and unwavering, Ito's images and installations incorporate aspects of the level of injury suffered by survivors of the blast, both overt and hidden, while commenting on the perils of nuclear testing and the anonymity of all who died at Hiroshima. In a testament to the power of photography, Ito raises awareness of nuclear dangers in this Month of Photography showcase mounted by the Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins.
Altered Images, Center for Fine Art Photography online exhibition
Online through June 30
Spend all the time you want with this large online group show from the Center for Fine Art Photography, which you can peruse from your living room. Juried by photography curator Lisa Volpe of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, it’s a workbook on the burgeoning art of photographic manipulation and its many modes, from old-fashioned hand-coloring to darkroom techniques to contemporary digital tweaking. One trend you might notice: Some photographers are going backwards to embrace more hands-on strategies.
Return of the Corn Mothers
History Colorado Center, 1200 Broadway
Through October 1
Guided Talks With Todd Pierson: Saturday, March 4, and Saturday, March 11, 11 a.m. to noon; free,
Return of the Corn Mothers is an act of love dating back to 2007, when the Rocky Mountain Women’s Institute funded the documentation of eight inspirational local women who embody the spirit of the Southwest. Though it began as a tribute to women from Colorado’s deeply rooted Chicano/Mestizo culture, it’s now expanded culturally, under the watch of History Colorado, CHAC Gallery, MSU Denver Chicana/o Studies and the Colorado Folk Arts Council. Including newer images shot by photographer Todd Pierson and curated by attorney and educator Renee Fajardo, the series on display at the History Colorado Center has expanded to include 22 women. Pierson will lead two walks through the exhibition in March.
Speaking With Light: Contemporary Indigenous Photography
Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway
Through May 21
Admission: Free to $19
Speaking With Light, curated by John Rohrbach, senior curator of photographs at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, and Navajo/Diné artist and curator Will Wilson, will modernize your perspective on photographic representations of Native life with truth-telling imagery shot by more than thirty Indigenous artists over the past thirty years. The show, located in the Hamilton Building, is included in the DAM gate admission.
Events and Workshops
Looking Back, Moving Forward Exhibition Tour With Samantha Johnston
Colorado Photographic Arts Center, 1070 Bannock Street
Thursday, March 9, 1 p.m.
The Colorado Photographic Arts Center took on the task of organizing a goliath roundup of exhibitions when Mark Sink passed the reins in 2021, but that’s not the only reason to celebrate the center. The exhibition Looking Back, Moving Forward rightly honors CPAC on the occasion of its sixtieth anniversary. With CPAC Executive Director and Curator Samantha Johnston doing the talking during this exhibition tour, you’ll learn a lot and hunger for more.
Studio Loft, Ellie Caulkins Opera House, 980 14th Street
Friday, March 17, 5:30 to 8 p.m.
While MoP’s portfolio reviews are not open to the public, the Portfolio Walk that follows is well worth your while if you’re a collector or even if you’d just like to see more. At this social event, you’ll be face to face with seventy photographers to discuss the work at more length. You might even happen upon a bargain.
Society for Photographic Education Vendor Fair
Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, Second Floor, IM Pei Tower, 1550 Court Place
Saturday, March 18, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Society for Photographic Education meets in Denver during the Month of Photography, but most of the conference is limited to paid members. The Vendor Fair is one exception. It’s free and open to the public, offering another opportunity to check out the latest latest digital, film and studio technologies and other photography-based products, books and resources.
The Collaboratory // analog distortion in the digital age
Not Another Film Lab, 743 Kalamath Street
Saturday, March 25, 1 to 11 p.m.
Hands-on Distortion Lab: 1 to 4 p.m.
Glitch Photo Booth: 4 to 7:30 p.m.
Glitch Show: 8 p.m.
For anyone who’d like to try outside-the-box analog media processes, this muddle of workshops and performances is the place to do it. Hosted at Not Another Film Lab by the Collaboratory, the long afternoon and evening event includes demos, mini-immersion stations, a distorted photograph display, an interactive wall, a distortion lab and glitch photo booth, followed by a live show by artists Colin Hill and Kaylin Rodriquez.