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To photographer Michael Ensminger, his Zottelbart (meaning “ragged beard” in German) self-portrait series is positively operatic, an ongoing aria kept alive by the ever-lengthening hair on his head and face, which he hasn’t cut or shaved in eight years.

During that period, he’s made periodic trips to the foothills, particularly in the Mount Evans area, for assisted shoots of himself, naked and long-haired, in a variety of neoclassical poses that look to have been pulled from a book of Maxfield Parrish paintings...only in black and white. But that’s all soon to end, he says. When the series reaches about 100 images, hopefully by spring, he plans to shear his locks and Billy Gibbons beard in what he imagines will be a work of ceremonial performance art.

Will Ensminger miss the hair when it goes? “My hair and beard are so much a part of my identity,” he says. “Since I was a teenager, I’d have long hair, and then I’d shave it, and then I’d grow it out again. But it’s now become more interesting to me as an art event. I’ve been portraying archival human things that hark back to Renaissance times or to images of ancient Greek or Roman figures. Yet I look pretty much like a bum in real life.” The irony in that, he adds, is significant.

Before it’s all over, though, you can see the evolution of the series when Zottelbart Encore opens tonight at Pattern Shop Studio, 3349 Blake Street, with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. The show continues through November 7; get information at www.patternshopstudio.com or call 303-297-9831.
Sept. 3-Nov. 7, 2010

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.