Relationship Show at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center
How do we mark the relationships we’ve had? Save mementos or keep a journal to remember? Allow the memories to imprint on our hearts or try to forget them? Some photographic artists use their relationships as fodder for artistic expression and analysis, allowing for a deeper understanding of the human connection. The Colorado Photographic Arts Center has just opened a new exhibition, Relationship Show, at their brand new space that runs through February 25, with a Grand Opening Reception on Friday, January 27, 6-9 pm. The artists include Maureen Drennan, Laura Beth Reese, Matthew Swarts, and Allison L. Wade.
The Colorado Photographic Arts Center is excited about its new home for the next five years: 1070 Bannock Street, just blocks away from the Denver Art Museum, Civic Center Park, and many of Denver’s leading cultural institutions. “The new space features a larger gallery for exhibitions, classes, and events, convenient parking and transportation options, and more office space. Most importantly, the move offers a new chapter of stability for CPAC, greater visibility for exhibiting artists, and the opportunity to introduce new audiences to excellent photography,” said CPAC Director Samantha Johnston.
“CPAC has a 54-year legacy of serving Denver’s photographic community and showing the finest examples of contemporary photography,” Johnston said. “Our long-term vision is to create a larger, permanent Center for Photography in Denver. Doing so will take time and a stable presence in the community. 2016 marked a year of growth and success for us, and this move puts us in an ideal position to continue that positive momentum. Our goal is to spend the next five years on Bannock Street raising our visibility and the funds to sustain CPAC’s legacy for many years to come.”
“We are grateful Ironton Studios and the RiNo arts community for welcoming and supporting us. It was wonderful to be part of such a vibrant and creative atmosphere,” Johnston said. With a one-year lease, however, it was challenging to plan ahead, she added. “Given the state of Denver’s real estate market, as soon as we saw the right opportunity we had to jump on it. We feel tremendously fortunate, especially when so many others in Denver’s arts community are struggling to find affordable space.”
The Relationship Show explores four artists’ viewpoints on the beginning, end, and isolation within current relationships. Each artist approaches the topic utilizing multiple approaches that meet us emotionally, visually, and with bittersweet laughter.
The most important role an artist plays is the way in which they reflect back to the world something intimate about themselves. Art has the power to demonstrate love, passion, and joy. Conversely, it reveals uncertainty, discomfort, pain, and breakdown. Making art about relationships can be the most honest way to work through feelings of turmoil and disconnection. The origin of the artwork is personal, but the experience is universal. The photographs of Laura Beth Reese are a conscious look back at her relationships that have ended, and an attempt at reconnection with an intimacy that has passed. Maureen Drennan photographs her husband with love and sensitivity in an attempt to reconnect and understand the turmoil in her marriage brought about by his depression.
Utilizing the language of popular culture adds universality to a project. Matthew Swarts takes our relationship with technology and amplifies the visual artifacts while simultaneously breaking our connection with the original image with two projects; each addressing the end of one relationship and the uncertainty that comes at the beginning of another. Allison Wade is borrowing the language of text messaging and the way that online dating relationships play out remotely with disastrous results. Her paintings of break-up texts demonstrate the frustrations, rising disregard for emotions, along with the desperation that has developed in a contemporary dating culture. -Patti Hallock
Maureen Drennan is a photographer born and based in New York City. Her work has been included in exhibitions in North America and Australia including the National Portrait Gallery (D.C.), Rhode Island School of Design Museum, The Wild Project (NY), Aperture (NY), Philadelphia Photo Arts Center and the Newspace Center for Photography, amongst others. She currently teaches at LaGuardia Community College and the International Center for Photography in New York City.
Allison Wade lives and works in New York City and is a Professor of Photography at The Fashion Institute of Technology. She received her MFA from Cornell University and her MA from The University of New Mexico. Allison is represented by Rick Wester Fine Art. Much of Allison Wade’s work deals with relationships and problems inherent in contemporary modes of communication. Her paintings and photographs show text messages that have ended the artist’s own relationships, whether sent by her or to her. These texts featured in Wade’s work are an exposition of one-way communication and social distance.
Laura Beth Reese is a Boston-based artist and curator. She was born in Iowa and raised in the Northeastern United States – sometimes in New Jersey and sometimes in Massachusetts. She completed her Bachelor of Arts in 2009 at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA and went on to earn her Master of Fine Arts in 2013 from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Reese’s work has been exhibited around the United States, most recently at the New Art Center, the Griffin Museum of Photography, and Bentley University’s McGladrey Art Gallery.
Matthew Swarts lives and works in Somerville, Massachusetts. He received his Master of Fine Arts in Photography and Digital Imaging. His work has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, WIRED, SLATE, GUP Magazine, FLAK photo, Conscientious Photography Magazine, Doubletake Magazine, Contact Sheet, Afterimage, Fotophile, In the Loupe, and other publications. Swarts is the recipient of a J.William Fulbright Scholar Grant and the Ruttenberg Arts Foundation Award for the best new work nationally in photographic portraiture.
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