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Photographer Evan Semón Captures Colorado’s Cycle Culture

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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.

The wheels are turning for photographer Evan Semón. Cycle Culture Colorado: We BikeDenver, a special show of his ten of his photos focusing on the state's cycling culture — presented in large-scale, watercolor giclee prints — is up at Racines now through Friday, October 30, with a reception hosted by BikeDenver from 4 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, October 6. 

BikeDenver was founded in 2001 when a group of cycling advocates identified a need for a pedestrian bridge near I-25 and Evans Avenue: the Colorado Center Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge that opened in July. Since its inception, the membership-supported organization has provided “a voice for people all across the city desiring a safe and convenient network for bicycling,” says BikeDenver executive director Molly North.

A voice, and an image. “We initially hired Evan to take profile pictures of our business members, and then approached Racines about curating a photography exposition at their restaurant,” North continues. You wouldn’t know it from looking at the skillful photography hanging at Racines, but this is only Semón's second exhibit. He’s been a professional photographer for years, but is new to the fine art scene.

Semón got interested in photography while working on his high school yearbook in Kansas. “I hurt my knee playing basketball, but still wanted to go to all the games, so my journalism teacher gave me a camera,” he recalls. After college, Semón took an internship with the Longmont Times-Call and later joined the Rocky Mountain News team before starting his own photography business. He's been freelancing ever since.

“Photography is all I do,” he says.“The only other job I’ve ever had was as a bank teller in high school.”

You might recognize some of Semón’s editorial work: He photographed Colorado’s first civil union at midnight at the Wellington Webb Building, and one of those images made it into Time.  Semón has also shot Broncos games, and works for both the Governor’s and the Mayor’s offices, trying to better Colorado through photography. “I work with a lot of nonprofit groups and for politics I support. “I don’t have any limits,” he explains, noting that he’s done newborn pictures and weddings, too. (He also did the 2014 holiday cards for both Mayor Michael Hancock and Governor John Hickenlooper.)

“Photography, for me, is about telling a story,” Semón continues. In that regard, he thinks the editorial process is similar to the fine art-process: “You have a good idea of what could happen, but you have to wait for it.”  In 2013, a friend encouraged Semón to show his work at John Fielder’s Colorado, and that got Semón thinking about producing a cohesive body of work. “I’d never shown my work in a gallery before, and I couldn’t just print my portfolio,” he recalls.

A self-proclaimed “Denver Cruisers kind of guy,” Semón came up with the idea behind Cycle Culture Colorado. He started photographing everything bike-related: “Anything from little kids learning to ride to the USA Pro Challenge, Bike to Work Day and really extreme mountain bikers,” he says. “Every picture was taken in Colorado — from Lamar to Durango to Fort Collins, I went all over the state for it. None of the shots were set up. I found the best location, and waited for the best light.” For one particular shot in Lamar (below), he waited by the train tracks for five hours for kids to cross on their bikes in the right light.

After three months, Semón finally had enough photos for an exhibit; when his John Fielder’s show wrapped up, Steve Sander – the guy who brought all of those red B-cycle bikes to town – hooked Semón up with a gig photographing BikeDenver’s new corporate members. “We really focused on business that give incentives to employees to ride to work or put racks in front of their shops, and that’s part of what’s up at Racines now,” says Semón.

What's his next gallery show? "This is still a testing-the-waters type thing," Semón says. But he definitely wants to continue dabbling in fine art. For more information, visit Semón's website or BikeDenver's Facebook page

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