Summer exposure: Denver metro photo exhibits to see this season

Revenge of the Goldfish but Sandy Skoglund. On display at the Denver Art Museum as part of the Modern Women Modern Vision exhibit. Denver Art Museum File Photo

I’ve recently committed to learning my mom’s Canon Ae1 Program 35 mm camera, which she purchased in either 1983 or 1984, almost a decade before I was born. 

It’s slow going, and that’s a good thing. 

I learned the basics of photography on a DSLR in high school, but loading film and getting the settings just right in one fell swoop is more challenging than I anticipated. Over the last two years I, like so many others, spent my time on pandemic hobbies that were mindless. Dozens of loaves of banana bread, new-to-me pasta dishes, YouTube dance classes. Anything that would serve as a distraction to the imploding world I was covering for the newspaper. 

Now, as the world takes a turn back toward normal, I’m finding that I want to spend my time focusing all of my attention on one thing. This old Canon tests my focus. The film has to align just right with the teeth of the camera so that it pulls through the spool after each take, and you better know how much light you’re letting through your lens. 

Each photograph seems precious, carefully chosen. Unlike the flour, sugar and butter I haphazardly dumped into a bowl two summers ago — eyeing measurements was good enough, what did it matter? — I’m finding a way back into each moment and embracing being fully aware of everything in front of me. 

My own personal summer of looking through a new lens comes at a great time. The metro region is filled with photo-focused exhibits this summer. They remind us that a new perspective is useful — necessary even — in achieving progress and moving forward.

From the women who shaped photojournalism to a more abstract artform, there’s plenty to see near Aurora over the next few months.

Modern Women/Modern Vision 

Denver Art Museum | Through Aug. 28 | Tickets: 

Women photographers have had a profound impact on the medium. It’s easy to see in “Modern Women/Modern Vision” at the Denver Art Museum, on display throughout the summer. There were fewer barriers for women with cameras than in other art forms, but it’s perhaps their perspective that brings the most to this exhibit, which is divided into six parts. Photographs by famous photographers such as Margaret Bourke-White and Dorothea Lange are breathtaking, educational and inspiring all at once.

Culture of Hair 

Colorado Photographic Arts Center | Through June 25 | Info: 

We have a complex relationship with hair. From politics to the beauty standards, five photographers and artists take part in “Culture of Hair” to explore how multifaceted and complex it can be. Neurologist Rohina Hoffman’s portrait series shows how much our hair is a part of our identity, while visual artist DM Witman shares how closely hair is tied to personal loss and grief — if you’ve ever thought bangs were a good idea, then you know. Other women artists in the exhibit examine culture and beauty in a way that so many of us can relate to on some level. The exhibit is on display through June 25. A panel discussion with the artists on the CPAC website is as eye opening and educational as the exhibit itself. 

Mother and Son by Henry Holmes Smith. On display at the Denver Art Museum as part of the Curious Visions Towards Abstract Photography. Denver Art Museum File Photo

Curious Visions Towards Abstract Photography 

Denver Art Museum | Through June 19 | Tickets: 

This summer the Denver Art Museum takes a notable step toward featuring photography at the institution with the inaugural two-part exhibition at the new Delisa & Anthony Mayer Galleries, which spans more than 2,800 square feet on the sixth floor of the new Martin Building. “Curious Visions: Toward Abstract Photography” includes images from the past century, showcasing how the medium and its relation to abstraction has changed throughout history. For the budding photographers, check out the galleries’  “Through the Lens,” an exhibit that explores how cameras and lenses work and how photographs are made.

Georgia O’Keeffe, Photographer

Denver Art Museum | July 3 – Nov. 6 | Tickets: 

You know her for her vibrant paintings of flowers and southwestern landscapes, but northern New Mexican icon Georgia O’Keeffe’s career also includes other media, such as photography, which will be on display later this summer at the Denver Art Museum. Lisa Volpe, Curator of Photography at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, spent three years researching, analyzing and studying more than 400 photographs by O’Keeffe. The result is an exhibit that reframes the artist, through her own lens. The DAM will also feature programming related to O’Keeffe’s photos throughout the summer and fall.

Eye to Eye: Portraits of Pride, Strength, Beauty

Fulginiti Pavilion at CU Anschutz | Showing now | Info: 

You can tell a lot about a person, their life and their story in a single portrait. Take a few minutes to really study it and you’ll find that a portrait is much more than a photograph of a person. In “Eye to Eye: Portraits of Pride, Strength, Beauty” Carey Candrian, an associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, showcases photographs of nearly three dozen LGBTQ women aged 59 to 85. The body of work tells a story of these women, but also of the data Candrian has collected throughout her career.  A heads up: Due to COVID-19 precautions, this exhibit is only accessible to badged CU Anschutz faculty, students and staff, but Candrian’s work may show at a public gallery or later this year.

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2 months ago

There is also an amazing exhibition of Sandy Skoglund’s work at RULE Gallery in Denver: