Photographer Andrea Modica's swan song is gallery owner Elaine Bean's grand reopening.
Italy, an exhibit of Modica's platinum prints, is Modica's last show as a Springs resident, at least for now, and marks Bean's first show in Phototroph Gallery's new location, at the corner of Manitou and Ruxton avenues in Manitou Springs.
On Aug. 2, Modica, a world-renowned photographer who's called the Pikes Peak region home for the past five years, will be returning to the Northeast to take a teaching position at a state university in rural Vermont.
"It's such an honor to have the opening show for Elaine's new gallery," said Modica in a recent interview. "I'm very sad about leaving the remarkable community of artists here."
Modica first came to Colorado Springs 11 years ago to teach at Colorado College and since then has embarked on a series of photographs featuring a Fountain family that runs a slaughterhouse; has shown her work at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center in Pueblo and at Phototroph; and has entered into a community of artists who, she says, have inspired her and become lifelong friends.
"David Turner at the Fine Arts Center, Jina Pierce at the Sangre de Cristo Center, Elaine -- my goodness! Look at what she's doing for our medium in this part of the world -- Sandy Carson, those are the folks who introduced me to the community, showed my work and kept me feeling very much part of the body of artists here," said Modica. "And Colorado College, of course. If not for them, I would never have come here."
She also acknowledges her art group -- Sean O'Meallie, Rodney Wood, Carol Dass and Laurel Swab -- which meets every other month to view and compare work.
"I'm still bowled over by new work I'm seeing in this community, as much as in New York City or any other large art community," she said.
Modica's Italy photographs were taken from 1990 to 2003 in Sicily under the auspices of a Fulbright fellowship and, later, in Tuscany and Umbria where she taught.
"The idea was to get in touch with my heritage, my identity as an Italian-American woman," said Modica. "I set out on the Fulbright to photograph Italian women."
One image of a young girl, serious and dressed up, standing on a tabletop, is typical of Modica's work: collaborative, meticulously staged and slightly mysterious. Though the girl stands solid, almost statuesque, her legs are held by a pair of large male hands.
"Yes, those hands. Does she need them?" said Modica. "There's this idea of the male protector that's so important in that culture, even though the women generally are so powerful, so strong, in charge."
The contrast within the images charge Modica's photos, shot with a very large-format camera and printed from 8-by-10-inch negatives.
"I'm interested in the combination of a beautiful print and information that's not always considered to be beautiful," she said.
Modica will return to the Springs next year to teach at CC and hopes her relationships here will continue.
"I'll be back," she said. "That's a promise."
Her show at Phototroph will be up through May 29.
-- Kathryn Eastburn
Italy by Andrea Modica
Grand Re-Opening Exhibit, Phototroph Gallery
16 Ruxton Ave., Manitou Springs
Open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Call 685-1313 or visit www.phototroph.com.