Arts and Culture

John Denver's photographs go "Rocky Mountain High" at Leon Gallery

Colorado-based pop star John Denver, who died in a crash while piloting his own plane in 1997 at the age of 53, would have turned seventy on New Year's Eve. Almost twenty years later, he remains both beloved for writing and singing such songs as "Rocky Mountain High" and "Take Me Home, Country Roads," and sometimes derided for being so perfectly sweet; either way, his estate is launching a yearlong celebration of his life, including the exclusive show and sale Sweet, Sweet Life: The Photographic Works of John Denver, which opens Saturday, January 11 at Leon Gallery.

See also: John Denver: Five things you may not know

All photos by John Denver, courtesy of the Estate of John Denver.

Along with being an environmentalist and an avid aviator who dreamed of going into space, Denver also developed an affinity for picture-taking, and Sweet, Sweet Life, curated by Leon's Eric Dallimore and Lindsay Giles McWilliams, brings the fruits of the singer's photographic hobby to life again, for reasons detailed in the following curators' statement.

It is a fascinating gift to get to know someone by looking through a lifetime of photographs; to see what was interesting, beautiful and worth remembering. Through curating over 10,000 of John Denver's personal images, we found that his work not only represents his passionate vision of nature and the outdoors, but also chronicles the emotional beauty of society and individuals all over the world.

He was an authentic, wide-eyed wanderer. You don't see lavish clichés you'd expect from a famous touring musician; you see someone who built a career catered toward exploring life with his loved ones, and finding connections with people and nature in parts of the world that weren't yet travel destinations. It's inspiring. We're excited to share this exhibit not only because this is the work of John Denver, an American icon who positively affected lives and land across the planet, but because at the end of the day he was a talented, dedicated man with a lot of heart. That is what is central to our vision at Leon.

Sweet, Sweet Life opens with a reception from 7 to 10 p.m. on January 11 at Leon and runs through March 2. Visit Leon online for more information; to learn more about John Denver go to his website.

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd