Catching the Southwest on film
Center showcases juried 'Images of the Southwest' through Nov. 7

“Cedar Mesa,” by Rick LeGrand, of Durango, took first place in the digital category in the Center of Southwest Studies’ “Images of the Southwest” juried photo exhibit, which is on display through Nov. 7.

A large color photograph of a blood-red sunset at Monument Valley greets visitors to the “Images of the Southwest” photo exhibit at the Fort Lewis College Center of Southwest Studies. The image, by Howard Rachlin, of Durango, is just the first of around 70 photographs hanging in the gallery that celebrates the landscapes, people, animals and other “images” of the Southwest. The exhibit opened Friday, Oct. 3, and runs through Nov. 7.

The juried show was the first for the Center of Southwest Studies, but because of the overwhelming response, it will not be the last, said Jeanne Brako, curator of the center’s galleries.

“There are really some beautiful photos here and technical skills of very high quality,” she said. “That’s a main feature of this show.”

Brako said she estimated the center would receive around 50 submissions for the show, which was open to all comers – professional and amateur. However, the center received double that number, as well as a huge influx of first-time visitors to the center who came solely to see the show. Brako said more than 700 people visited the show during its opening weekend.

“Of course, we wooed them with refreshments,” she laughed.

Visitors were treated to a profusion of images of the Southwest, from dust devils to snow-covered aspens.

The center awarded $1,200 in prize money to the winners. “Best in Show” honors, and $300 in prize money, went to Eileen Baumgardt, of Durango, a particularly noteworthy winner because it was the first photography contest she’d ever entered.

“I’m really excited,” Baumgardt said. “I’m flying on air.”

A black and white print by Brett West entitled “La Plata River” captures water in motion.

Baumgardt used a Nikon N60 35mm to take her winning color photo from a bench in front of the Spruce Tree House at Mesa Verde. While waiting for her husband, the sun bounced off the bottom of the canyon and up through the back of a window in the house, giving the illusion that it was lit from within.

“For me it was a spiritual kind of experience because with all the people milling about, no one else noticed,” Baumgardt said. “That’s why I named it ‘Light from the Past’ – because it seemed like the ancient people were speaking to me.”

Charlie Black, owner of Pennington Camera, had a color photo of an American Indian in regalia dancing in the foreground of Chimney Rock selected for the show. Black said he learned of the show via flyers that were left in his store and decided to pull his photo off his wall and enter it. Once accepted for the show, he told the center he would donate the proceeds from the sale of the photo to the center if it sells.

A 35mm digital print taken by Eileen Baumgardt entitled “Close Encounter” competed in the color category. Another of Baumgardt’s entries, “Light
from the Past,” won Best in Show honors.

“I think the idea (for the show) is really great,” Black said. “I’m glad to see more photo exhibits in Durango.”

Black said that tourists often enter Pennington Camera complaining that because the scenery is so beautiful, they run out of film more quickly than expected.

“Tourists come and say, ‘I started with 10 rolls of film and I’m already done!’” Black said.

But he doesn’t blame them.

“It’s a photographer’s paradise here in the Four Corners,” Black said. “We have mountains, rivers, desert, red rocks, the train, Mesa Verde 85 there are so many things to photograph.”







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