Light Bright

The photogram, or “cameraless photography,” one of the most primitive photographic techniques, first gained attention in the 1930s through the experimentation of artists like Man Ray, László Moholy-Nagy, Pablo Picasso and others, who made images by placing and exposing objects directly on light-sensitive material, leaving a negative image behind. More esoteric still is Kirlian photography, which uses a high-voltage source to create a halo effect around the image. In modern times, California artist Robert Buelteman has updated that technique to create large-scale color prints of plant life. A small collection of his work goes on display today in Signs of Life: Photograms by Robert Buelteman, an exhibit presented in collaboration with Walker Fine Art at the Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York Street.

“He’s abandoning using a camera but still pulling off a photographic image,” explains Kim Manajek, associate director of exhibitions, art and interpretation at the gardens. “The plants are laid right on top of a metal plate, and then he electrifies the whole thing with 60,000 volts. Once he’s captured the image, he goes back and uses a fiber-optic brush to create highlights by hand. They’re really cool images; they feel like they’re actually emanating light — which is basically what photography does.”

Signs of Life opens with a reception from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. (including an artist talk at 6:30) in the DBG’s Gates Garden Court Gallery; the show is free with regular admission and runs through August 3. Get information at or call 720-865-3500. RSVP for the reception at [email protected]
Wed., May 7, 5:30-7:30 p.m.; May 7-Aug. 3, 2014

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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