If you've never been to a show at Colorado College's Coburn Art Gallery, it's no wonder. Coburn occupies a tiny space, tucked away in an obscure corner of the Worner Campus Center. Hermetic, self-referential, it's part of "CC World," the Colorado Springs equivalent of Peking's Forbidden City. It's an island of blue in a sea of red, full of smart, creative, liberal folks, be they students or teachers. And that's why Coburn, small as it is, often has wonderful shows.
The current exhibition is one of them. It's nothing fancy; just half a dozen pieces from each of seven visiting members of the art faculty. One creates jewelry, one is a printmaker, five are photographers, and one is a photographer-performance artist-writer.
Pleasingly, at least to a Colorado Springs native and local chauvinist, Manitou residents Jean Gumpper and Andrea Modica are included in the show. They're both powerful, mature artists whose work becomes richer and deeper every year.
Modica has four recent photographs on display. They're medium-sized platinum-palladium contact prints, done with an 8-by-10-inch view camera. Like all of her work, they're subtle, allusive, intimate and haunting. Her subjects are young women in shadowed interiors, members of a Fountain family that she's been photographing for five years.
We think of photography as a quick, easy, spontaneous medium, one that becomes ever quicker, ever more spontaneous as technology improves. If that's so, Modica's the anti-photographer, using clumsy, recalcitrant equipment, restricting herself to a few subjects, seeking to illuminate lives with images both concentrated and alive.
Four of Gumpper's bright and radiant reduction woodcut prints are hung on the gallery's south wall. Gumpper is an artist of small things, of the play of light on leaves, the sparkle of water, the transient colors of a fall afternoon. But her work is big, emotional and bright -- particularly so here, because the work is right there, unframed, unprotected by glass.
Frank Gohlke has three images from his series "Landscapes of Longing -- Queens, New York." They're pretty wonderful: simple black-and-white photographs of a garden, a front door, a rickety beach house. Evocative, dreamlike, suggesting lives that are not ours, paths not followed, these are satisfying photographs.
Stuart Klipper's panoramic photographs of late-modern techie apparatus are interesting, if only for their subject matter, for example, "Magnets and Waveguide Shunting off Main Accelerator Ring, Fermilab."
What might you expect from a man with a degree in semiotics (look it up -- I did), a writer/photographer like Stokley Towles? What about a bookplate that reads as follows:
"He who tears the paper of this book or uses it as a door stop, paperweight, or ashtray, or in any way disrespects its contents -- may your favorite reading chair cease to provide comfort. May that perfect cup of coffee sitting next to you turn to ice the moment it touches your lips. And as you read in bed, may a fly buzz above your head, always just out of reach. May strangers approach you on the street and reveal the ending to the novel you just started reading. May the critical page in your story, the one where a great emotional epiphany is experienced and you feel your life forever changed, may that page be inexplicably missing from every copy of every book you read from this day forward."
-- John Hazlehurst
Visiting Art Faculty Exhibition
Coburn Gallery, Worner Campus Center (northwest corner of Cache La Poudre and Cascade)
Through Dec. 21. Gallery open Tuesday through Saturday, 12:30-7:30 p.m.
Call 389-6797 for more