Tonight, photographer Terri Bell opens her tbellphotographic studio & gallery up to a group of seventeen Colorado artists she met, quite by chance, after issuing an open call and inviting Mark Sink to serve as juror for a show celebrating "the art of being in the right place at the right time" and conveying "spontaneous and impromptu photographic captures, either through subject matter or experimentation with photographic media." The show -- which opens tonight at 6 p.m. and runs through March 18 at her space at 900 Santa Fe Drive, Studio A -- includes work by George Beggs, Becky Chapman, Deborah Davis, Elizabeth Dillinger, J. Gluckstern, Jessica Hilvitz, Maria Lawson, Matt Lewis, Eli Lichtenstein, Lynna McKay, Francisca Morgan, John Schoenwalter, Lynne Scholfield, Alex Martin Scribbins, Alexanda Sheremet, Bengamin Smith, and Ellen Yeiser.
We had a chance to catch up with Bell for more on the show and a sneak preview of Chance.
Westword: I understand your studio primarily showcases your own work throughout the rest of the year. Can you tell me a little bit open the decision to put this particular show of other photographers' work together?
Terri Bell: This is the third open-entry show that I've done in my studio since I started doing these a year ago, and the first show was actually in conjunction with Mark Sink's MOP, Month of Photography, which was so much fun I wanted to continue with the idea beyond just that month. It's been a really great experience having these open call shows because it gives a lot of artists exposure for their work and it also turns me on to a lot of artists, it brings in entries from all over the country, it's a really great way to celebrate photography. I was really honored this time to work with Mark Sink on this show: He's the juror, and that's an exciting part of the show for me, to be able to present work that he has selected.
Westword: Why this theme of "chance"? Is there anything that -- perhaps by chance -- ties the disparate works in the show together?
Bell: Mark works a lot in very experimental processes and is known for his work with toy cameras and collodion wet plate photography which, by nature, is a chance-y process, and he seemed really into the idea of chance as a theme. We wanted to focus on chance not only with the actual exposure of the photograph - being in the right place at the right time - but also to look at work that explored experimental processes. We've ended up with a show that exhibits all kinds of chance, spontaneity, and experimentation in photography.
Westword: In this day and age we have so many tools to control every aspect of photography with our digital cameras and digital darkrooms. What is that attracts you to giving up some of those controls and leaving some aspects of the process to fate and chance?
Bell: Photography is the most immediate medium for being able to make an artistic statement quickly. It can happen as quickly as pressing the shutter button, and beautiful art can be made when that sense of immediacy and spontaneity is involved in the process of creation, and when parts of that process are left open to chance. I personally think photography is unique because -- while some shots can take hours and hours to set up and planning and there is that element of photography that relies on a studio and is really thought out -- there's also this other very immediate side to it, and it can be really fascinating. That's something that was very appealing to me and very appealing to Mark as we started talking about this show, and it became kind of a cool thing to build a whole show around that idea.
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Westword: Speaking of chance, were there any new artists you've discovered through this process?
Bell: Oh yeah, absolutely. All of them, really! Most of the people displaying work in this show are brand new to me or this is my first exposure to their work, and that's an exciting thing to me. I think the medium of photography is becoming more and more popular in Denver, on the artist side and in terms of how it's received by the people who collect art. I'm also seeing the photographic community become more unified and we've been enjoying working together on various projects. It's really cool to be able to work together as a community to put shows like this together that focus on photography as a medium, and to begin to realize that this community of artists and the audience for our work may be bigger than any of us individually had ever dared to imagine.