This weekend, the Vail Valley Art Guild is hosting two events at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards. The 8th Annual Vail Valley Fine Art Show, a three-month exhibition that features the work of 39 local artists in the halls of CMC, opens this Friday evening with an Art and Jazz Reception. The following morning, photography writer and curator Rupert Jenkins will present a public lecture at the college about three of Colorado’s most influential fine art photographers and their lasting impact on American photography.
Art and Jazz Reception
The Vail Valley Fine Art Show is displaying 170 works ranging from drawings, paintings, photography, sculpture, and even a piece of video installation. All works will be on display in the halls of CMC from Friday through the first week of January. Nearly everything at the show is available for purchase, and will be listed in the show’s official catalog.
“This will be our eighth year of the show, and we think that this is our best effort yet,” said guild director Andrew Pranger. “The past two events have been presented by the El Pomar Foundation and made it possible to create these quality materials and a top-notch reception.”
The reception will run from 5-8 p.m. on Friday. While strolling through the halls of CMC and taking in works of art, visitors will be accompanied by the sound of smooth jazz music performed live by a local jazz trio led by CMC counselor Larry Dutmer.
“The music will help to provide a cultural backdrop to the reception and adds another layer of sophistication to the event,” Pranger said. “Live music is always a great addition to an art reception and our guests always love to enjoy the performance while being surrounded by great art.”
This weekend also provides a number of opportunities to engage with local photographers and learn about the medium of fine art photography. The Fine Art Show includes the works of eight photographers from the guild’s photo arm, who will each be showing five images that fit within the following categories: abstract, figure/portrait, landscape, still life, and wildlife/animals.
Fine art photography lecture with Rupert Jenkins
Rupert Jenkins, a Denver-based curator and former director of the Colorado Photographic Arts Center, will be a guest juror for the photography exhibit on Friday evening. The following morning, Jenkins will present a lecture at 10 a.m. at the college, where he will talk about three of Colorado’s influential historical photographers: Laura Gilpin, Myron Wood and Robert Adams.
Raymond Bleesz, the co-founder of Vail Valley Art Guild Photography, is bringing Jenkins to help expose guild members and community members to the rich history of fine art photography.
“A sunset, a scenic grove of aspen trees – certainly in color as they are now – or a grizzly bear in nature – that seems to be what the general public views as photography. But that’s not what I’m after,” Bleesz said. “I’m after the academic, the history of fine art photography, and those of us who are involved in that sphere need to know the history of photography dating from 1837 up to present. When one is committed to fine art photography, one must study, and be aware of its history. Photography is more than just pretty pictures.”
Jenkins has over thirty years of experience as a curator and scholar of American photography, with a specialty in post-World War II Colorado photographers. This Saturday, in a lecture titled “Three from the Springs”, he will be sharing his expertise on three 20th century photographers based out of Colorado Springs who have contributed greatly to the capturing of the West and Southwest of the US. From Gilpin’s photos of Native Americans, to Wood’s images of Pueblo culture to Adams’ documentation of the changing West, all three have used photography to powerfully communicate the world around us.
Bleesz hopes that the lecture will educate and inspire local photographers to pursue a deeper immersion into fine art photography.
“Like Kodak said long ago, ‘push the button and we do the rest’ – there’s too much of that mentality out there,” Bleesz said. “The general public is not aware of fine art photography, and I’m trying to bring that into the guild. To have a camera in your hand taking a snapshot is fine and dandy, but there’s more than just taking a snapshot. There’s got to be some conceptual idea, there’s got to be some intellectual thought about composition, whether you work in color or black and white, about creating a statement and putting one’s own self into a photograph.”
Tickets to the Art and Jazz Reception are free, but visitors must pre-register online as attendance is capped at 250 people. To register, scan the QR code or look up “8th Annual Vail Valley Fine Art Show” on Eventbrite. The Rupert Jenkins lecture on Saturday morning is free and open to all.