In No Boundaries, Sandra Phillips has turned over the front of her eponymous gallery to Evan Anderman, a well-known Colorado photographer. Anderman is chiefly interested in aerial photography, sometimes done from a plane, but for "Spring Creek," a series of images of La Veta Pass, he employed a drone with a camera attached. Last year’s Spring Fire took out much of the forest on the pass, and Anderman was interested in making poetically composed images of the aftermath. Since they take up the topic of ruined landscapes, Anderman’s photos technically fall into the new topographic style, but his unerring sense for the picturesque tends to put the work into a more straightforward category, free of irony or political undercurrents.
With eight large photos hung on either side of the front space, the Anderman selection functions almost as a solo, but Phillips has devoted the back area to a collection of videos by Anna Kaye, Virginia Folkestad and John Morrison. Folkestad is represented by the tiny installation “Self-Portrait,” meant to be a teaser for her upcoming solo at the gallery. It’s sort of like a conceptual-art version of a dollhouse, with a cardboard structure that’s open at one end; inside is a warren of spaces divided by window screening on which tiny videos are being projected. Opposite, on a wall-hung monitor, is Morrison’s “Ineffable No.1,” in which views of downtown Denver are overlaid and sometimes annihilated by abstract forms reminiscent of those he uses in his paintings.
Jeff Davenport, whose day job involves app designing, now lives in Los Angeles, but he spent many years in Colorado, both in Boulder, at the University of Colorado, and in Denver before leaving in 2016. He came up through the Mile High City’s punk-music scene as a performer, but began taking photos of bands and individual performers. Four years ago, he started also taking photos outside at night, making the decision to use only ambient light — which is surprising, considering how well-defined the details are. The photos seem like they're illuminated by spotlights, but instead Davenport relies on reflected light from signs, floodlights and streetlights that bounces off the things he’s capturing, including buildings, cars and landscaping.
“Working only with the predetermined light of city planners, business and home owners, the work reveals how the transactional light of security and safety can transcend into the fantastic and the extraordinary,” Davenport writes in his artist’s statement.
Beyond Hollywood, other sources for his aesthetic include the painters of the Ash Can School and photorealist painter Richard Estes. “When I was at CU in Boulder, I worked at the CU Art Museum, and one of the things I did was catalogue a collection of Estes prints; it’s an amazing collection," Davenport says. "And his work has been an ongoing influence on me ever since.” While it might seem strange that an artist who made paintings that look like photos wound up being an influence on an actual photographer, that's the case here — especially in the depictions of urban settings devoid of people, which intrigued first Estes, then Davenport.
With so many big exhibits associated with MoP, it’s easy to miss the small ones. Don't make that mistake with these shows at Phillips and Leon.
No Boundaries, through April 6, Sandra Phillips Gallery, 47 West 11th Avenue, 303-931-2991, thesandraphillipsgallery.com.
Nights: Jeff Davenport, through April 20, Leon Gallery, 1112 East 17th Avenue, 303-832-1599, leongallery.squarespace.com