Visual Arts

Emily Przekwas's Western Civilization photo exhibit at Corporate Deli

You can find art all over town -- not just on gallery walls. In this series, we'll be looking at some of the local artists who serve up their work in coffeehouses and other non-gallery businesses around town.

Last year, when Emily Przekwas's grandfather bought her "a really nice camera" -- a Nikon e7000, to be specific -- the artist didn't know much about photography. But because her grandpa had recognized an innate interest and talent, Przekwas decided she'd teach herself how to use the camera. And the results are pretty incredible.

See also: Greg Marquez and his Western-inspired watercolors

Przekwas's background is in physics, which may explain why she has such a great eye for light. "A lot of physics is about light and the characteristics of light," Przekwas explains. While studying at the Colorado School of Mines, she even spent a summer working in an optics lab.

"I've always been an artistic person," says Przekwas. When she was growing up, her mom frequently initiated elaborate art projects. And photography, Przekwas is quickly discovering, is a fantastic way to bridge the more technical aspects she was trained in and the fun, creative side of her personality.

Originally from Colorado, Przekwas "grew up all over," she says. "After college, I did some political and activist work during the 2008 campaign and traveled around the country during that election cycle." That trip ended in Connecticut, where Przekwas spent a few more years doing grassroots activism. After that, she lived in New Orleans for a time before heading to France for a summer.

Now Przekwas is back in Colorado, and she's "finally settled down in CapHill," she says. "I love the energy and culture here. Denver is still being shaped and developed, and I really like being a part of that and having the ability to make stuff happen!"

When Przekwas isn't taking pictures, she's doing economic development and making things happen for a local nonprofit. That's how her first exhibition came about, actually: Przekwas's work is on display at Corporate Deli now through May.

Przekwas was familiar with the venue because she works in the same building and eats at the restaurant frequently. "They have the best breakfast sandwiches," she says. One day, Przekwas struck up a conversation with the owner of Corporate Deli, who "is really supportive of artists," she says, and he gave her some wall space for her first exhibition. Keep reading for more from Emily Przekwas's Western Civilization.

The collection, called Western Civilization, mixes images of classic Western subjects from rural Wyoming and Yellowstone with scenery and cityscapes from The Netherlands, Belgium and New Orleans. Przekwas selected the photographs for their unique colors and vibrant textures.

The synthesis for the show was a trip that Przekwas took to Yellowstone last June. "I think everybody falls in love with Yellowstone," she says. "I loved the lighter palette and the interesting geological features, and I wanted to put together some of my photos into an exhibit."

The artist, who says she has always been inspired by color, has begun appreciating more subtle colors and complementary colors since her trip to Yellowstone. She tries to bring out really bright hues with neutrals. The result is a greater richness overall, she says.

The Yellowstone shots were incredible, but Przekwas wasn't content stopping there. Because she has traveled extensively, she wanted to unite some of the incredible cityscapes from Europe and Louisiana, too.

An exhibition on cubism at the Denver Art Museum got Przekwas thinking about photography in two dimensions, and that's when she first noticed a connection between some pretty eclectic shots. "I tried to unite the pictures more based on colors and textures rather than content," she explains.

Przekwas isn't totally new to the local art scene. Last spring, she won the Museum of Outdoor Arts' annual Chalk Art Festival Photography Contest. She was still falling in love with her new camera back then, she says, and was just out trying to get some practice. After dinner on Larimer Square, the artist walked outside into a beautiful pre-dusk blue sky. "The lights over Larimer Square were really romantic, and I got this perfect shot," she says.

For more information, visit Przekwas's website or e-mail her at [email protected] All images above are copyright of Emily Przekwas.

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Jamie Siebrase is a Denver-based freelance writer, and author of the forthcoming Falcon Guide Hiking Wth Kids, Colorado: 52 Great Hikes for Families.
Contact: Jamie Siebrase