Photo Pensato, a fine-art photography collective that started in Denver, is displaying its first show at Colorado Mountain College (CMC) in Edwards through Sept. 17.
“Pensato” is an Italian term for a musical note so exquisite that it can neither be played nor heard, and the 12 photographers of Photo Pensato seek to capture similarly elusive sensations in their diverse array of photo prints.
The Photo Pensato Fine Art Photography Exhibit is currently on display in the halls of the CMC Edwards campus building. Visitors are invited to stop by and view the collection any time during school hours, which run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. All of the prints on display are also available for purchase.
“CMC, and this campus in particular, is very committed to the arts, and we look forward to these types of partnerships,” said CMC Vice President and Campus Dean Marc Brennan. “We recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of Summervail, which started as a collaboration between CMC and local artists, so this photography exhibition and the future exhibitions that we have coming up are just a continuation of that partnership and how we want to connect with the community.”
Raj Manickam is a long-time Eagle resident and the latest photographer to join the Photo Pensato collective. Manickam only began doing fine art photography six years ago, but has already won numerous awards for his work, which depict a variety of human, environmental and still-life subjects that grab his attention.
“All my life I have seen it in my head, but I had never taken them,” Manickam said. “I decided that from now on, I’m going to get a camera and I’m going to take it. I don’t want to miss it.”
Manickam took his first photography classes at CMC in Edwards, where he learned the technical aspects of the craft under the tutelage of Butch Mazzuca. When he was invited to join Photo Pensato, he saw an opportunity to connect the group’s work with his local community.
“We have to really get people to come and see this, not just to sell, but to appreciate what these guys are about,” Manickam said. “There’s substance in it, and if you are really an art lover and you don’t see this show while it’s in this town, it’s a miss. It’s truly a miss.”
The photographs on display at CMC represent the refined skill and unique style that each artist brings to the collective. Stephen Podrasky is a Denver-based photographer who explores how man-made environments are impacting rural, urban and animal lives. His prints at CMC include intimate images of animals in captivity, such as a shadowed gorilla making direct eye contact with the viewer. It is hard to look away.
On the CMC walls, viewers will encounter familiar Colorado environments represented in completely original ways, such as the reflective depiction of Lone Eagle Peak by Denver-based black-and-white photographer Jim Montague, or the deconstructed image of Denver’s Union Station by John Shelton of Estes Park.
Angela Faris Belt shows arresting photos of the trees and landscapes that populate her environment on Colorado’s Front Range, and Linda Little captures the smallest of details when photographing shells and branches from her personal shell collection.
Each of the photographers brings a different background to their work, which informs a distinct style and approach to their imagery. Aimee McCrory uses her background as a performance artist to create self portraits that grapple with and celebrate the process of aging. Archaeologist Thomas Carr seeks to represent the subtle indications of past human presence in the physical environments that he photographs.
Manickam does not focus his work on one specific theme, and instead follows his instincts to represent topics that have meaning for him. Many of his photographs are displayed in a separate section in the CMC library, including prints from his pilgrimage in Sri Lanka, rodeo and forest fire scenes from Eagle County, and even a simple depiction of Manickam’s office door at his day job at SteamMaster Restoration and Cleaning in Minturn.
“When your work speaks to you, try not to interrupt,” Manickam said.
Almost all of his images have a story behind them, which Manickam writes up and publishes on his website, allingoodlight.com. His display at CMC includes a number of QR codes that visitors can scan to access the context behind the image, such as the story behind “Juniper’s Last Gasp”, which overlays a photo of a dead juniper tree over that of a local landfill that Manickam toured with Walking Mountains Science Center.
“Junipers are so resilient, they last 400-700 years, but now here it is, this dead juniper tree” Manickam said. “I overlayed those two photos, and here comes this crazy image. Then the story came to me – even the indomitable juniper will die if we don’t take care of our environment. Here is a message speaking through the dead tree.”
Photo Pensato will be holding a “Meet the Artist” event on Wednesday, Sept. 8 from 4-5 p.m. where Manickam and other photographers will talk about their work and share the stories behind the images. The exhibit will remain up at CMC Edwards until Sept. 17.
For more information about Photo Pensato and the participating artists, visit photopensato.com.