Hal Gould has done a lot in his 91 years. And when we say "a lot," we mean, like, a ridiculous amount. For starters, he's an accomplished fine-art photographer in his own right; he was one of the first wave of photographers to see the medium for its artistic possibilities. But inasmuch as he was a participant in that movement, where Gould really made an impact was as a proponent of it: In the early '60s, he broke ground as one of the co-founders of the Colorado Photographic Arts Center, and in 1980, as a continuation of the project, he opened the Camera Obscura Gallery, which, as Westword art critic Michael Paglia noted in his look back on Gould's life and work two weeks ago, was the first gallery in the nation entirely devoted to the display and sale of photographic fine art.
Hard as it may be to believe anymore, photography was just thirty years ago still starting to gain traction as a recognized fine-art pursuit, and in Denver and beyond, Camera Obscura, in its location on Bannock Street across from the Denver Art Museum, played a large role in getting it there. Last week, after 31 years, Camera Obscura closed its doors. (In commemoration, we went ahead and gave Gould a Lifetime Achievement award in our Best of Denver 2011.)
The last show on display at Camera Obscura was a retrospective of the photography of Gould himself, along with that of longtime gallery co-director Loretta Young-Gautier -- and tomorrow night, Byers-Evans House Gallery, located just across the street, is picking up the reigns with Masterworks of Photography from the Collection of Hal Gould, which, as the title suggests, is a mini-anthology of some of Gould's personal favorite works -- "The ones I did not have to sell to pay rent," Gould jokingly suggests. "However, they do represent many of my favorite photographs by many of the greatest photographic artists of our time."
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"Since he's a neighbor, when he decided to close, we though it would be interesting just to show the twenty or so favorites of Hal Gould," says Byers-Evans Gallery director Kevin Gramer. "We'll be sad to see him go."
So will we. But he's not gone yet, and you can see his best at the opening reception of the show tomorrow from 5 - 9 p.m. and through July 30 when the gallery is open, Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the gallery is free.