The Photography of John Denver

Fine Artists: John Denver and Leon Gallery
Project: The curation of “Sweet, Sweet Life: The Photographic Works of John Denver”

I cannot tell you how amazing this project was to capture. It’s always nice to see your friends succeed wildly. After watching the care that Eric and Lindsay at Leon Gallery and Amy from John Denver’s estate took curating this collection, I am certain they all deserved every accolade their hard work has brought them. They were meticulous in choosing work that expressed the heart and soul of this explorer and his camera, and they presented everything with respect. They strove wholeheartedly to honor his untold wishes.

Witnessing this process also made John Denver real to me for the first time. As someone who had been famous before I’d even been born, someone who’d hung out with the Muppets for goodness sake, John Denver had always been more myth than man to me. But here were his envelopes of travel photos, little gummy packets that looked just like the photo envelopes we all used to get back from the photo lab. Here were piles of slides, just like the ones that sit in my grandparents’ closet. Sure, his envelopes said things like “China” and “USSR,” but those little bits of trash and treasure- all mixed up in boxes the way everyone’s life ends up mixed up in boxes- made him real. It was an honor, and Eric, Lindsay and Amy held the life expressed in these little gummy packets with reverence.

John Denver’s photography is much like his music. It has an honest ease and openness. It’s refreshing, expressing wonder without irony. I encourage you to take a trip down to Leon to experience it before the show closes on March 2nd.

John Denver Photography
John Denver Photography
John Denver Photography
John Denver Photography
John Denver Photography
John Denver Photography
John Denver Photography
John Denver Photography
John Denver Photography
John Denver Photography
John Denver Photography
John Denver Photography
John Denver Photography
John Denver Photography
John Denver Photography
John Denver Photography
John Denver Photography

The Nutcracker 2013

Fine Artists: Colorado Conservatory of Dance and Wonderbound
Project:The Nutcracker – A Tradition” for the 2013 Season

And just like that, it’s time to put The Nutcracker to bed.  For Wonderbound it will stay in dreamland from now on, and for the Colorado Conservatory of Dance it will become a new challenge to tackle in a different way next year. I really enjoyed the challenge of focusing on the student dancers this year. These kids are pretty darn amazing, not only in their passion for dance, but also in their desire to be good, professional theatre members. These lessons are hard won, and a credit to the instructors, parents and volunteers willing to do the work and instill that culture in the next generation. These young dancers pushed through tummy bugs, injury, and homework- all while being consummate professionals- to put on a great show.

Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Colorado Conservatory of Dance

Reflections on The Nutcraker

Fine Artists: Wonderbound and the Colorado Conservatory of Dance
Project: The Nutcracker for the 2013 Season

Colorado Dance Photography

Maybe it’s because I’m the oldest daughter, or maybe it’s just part of being a photographer, but I feel the need to be the family historian. This need applies to any and all of my vast and varied families, like my Wonderbound family. This winter was the last time Wonderbound will participate directly in The Nutcracker. I felt a strange, self inflicted, pressure to document those last moments, because there is beauty and importance in our final things, even when our relationships end for good reasons.

Colorado Dance Photography

For some of Wonderbound’s artists, they’ve danced The Nutcracker since they were 5 years old, since they were the tiny children bouncing out of Mother Ginger’s skirts. Their last “Waltz of the Sugar Plum Fairy” needs to be captured, with just much care and for much the same reason, as the dance students who perform this ballet for the first time. It’s like Nutcracker graduation photos. And I will miss Sarah Tallman’s flirtatious fairy and Private’s capricious Drosselmeyer, just as I still miss Marian Faustino and former company member Ben Delony’s sugary sweet, over-the-top with silly joy “Dance of the Mirlitons” because it was the smiliest dance ever.

Colorado Dance Photography
Colorado Dance Photography

But… after you take your graduation photos, you still have to graduate. Certainly, coming back to a ballet so tried and true and, dare I say, safe, feels weird after the skyrocket ride that was A Gothic Folktale. Perhaps even more so since both ballets have the heart of a fairytale. I adore Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot’s book, Exit: The Endings that Set Us Free because she so clearly articulates this weirdness. Sometimes we have to go backwards in order to go forwards. We have to try on those old clothes, those old identities, to really see that they no longer fit and we’re ready for something new. New roles and new relationships don’t grow overnight, and we don’t lose our old selves in an instant. And I have to say, these dancers are just so darn GOOD in these old roles, even if they’re ready for new ones.

Colorado Dance Photography
Colorado Dance Photography

If anything, the ground under Wonderbound feels more solid to me now, having gone back to The Nutcracker. Many artistic companies paint themselves into this strange corner, if you’ll forgive the terrible pun, because they stay with the tried and true money makers, giving over their time and energy to things that they know will fill seats. The trouble is, there are only so many resources available, so these companies can end up forgoing the new and noteworthy for a safe bet. As that safe show becomes stodgy, less press-worthy, and less exciting to audiences, it can end up strangling these companies in the long run. They build themselves an albatross of tickets sales they can’t remove from their necks.

Colorado Dance Photography

No one has ever accused Garrett Ammon or Dawn Fay of a lack of innovation. I am excited to see what transcendent madness they concoct for next winter, and I’m excited to see Denver respond to something new. I’ll still miss the tutus and the pointe shoes, and although I know the Colorado Conservatory of Dance will take over The Nutcracker with great success, it just won’t be the same. But that’s the point. If you’ll forgive another terrible pun.

Colorado Dance Photography
Colorado Dance Photography