Ida Inspiration black and white photo

Announcing the Winners of the Let's Go Colorado! Photography Contest

Earlier this month, the Denver Art Museum held the Let's Go Colorado! photography contest. Participants were instructed to follow in the footsteps of photographers Timothy H. O'Sullivan and William H. Bell, whose work is currently on view in On Desert Time: Landscape Photographs by O’Sullivan & Bell, 1871-1874, and capture an image that reflects both the bones of the Colorado landscape and their own discoveries in the area.

Check out our Facebook page to see the top 30 winning submissions, which will be on view at Untitled: Stop Motion on September 30. The Denver Art Museum is proud to partner with Your 6 Hometown Toyota Stores to provide opportunities for aspiring artists to showcase their work at the museum through this unique contest.

At top is the overall winner, Ida Inspiration by Paola Scharberg. Photography curator Eric Paddock had this to say about it:

"It is easy to believe that the effort of climbing a mountain is enough to make any picture good. Ida Inspiration demonstrates that there is a lot more to it than that. The photographer stepped back from the figure in the foreground to show someone sitting at the edge of a vast and physically complicated landscape. I can’t tell whether that person is drawing, writing in a journal, or just unwrapping a sandwich, but that relaxed pose makes the idea of sitting on a mountain top seem more like a natural occurrence than a moment of triumph—as if that person simply belongs there. I like the way the diagonal ridge drifts off to the right and leads the eye to Longs Peak on the farthest horizon. And I’m excited by the jumble of talus, cliffs and snow in that glaciated bowl at the seated figure’s feet. To me, this entry reflects the spirit of nineteenth-century explorer-photographers like those featured in the DAM’s On Desert Time exhibition."

Below are the top five winning submissions chosen by the Denver Art Museum’s photography department.

Congratulations to all of these amazing photographers!

Top image credit: Ida Inspiration, © Paola Scharberg.

© the artist. Curator Eric Paddock said: Bing Ting is both a funny picture and one that speaks to an interesting moment in Colorado’s history. This old white delivery van is parked by the side of the road in St. Elmo, Colorado—one of the state’s most-photographed semi-ghost towns. But instead of photographing the town’s charming nineteenth-century architecture, the photographer has chosen to show us a rusting truck hemmed in by melting snowdrifts on a bright spring day. And where, in days past, the truck would have been emblazoned with the name of a dairy or a bakery or a dry cleaner, it’s now a rolling advertisement for bong hits.

Pawnee Buttes black and white photo

One of the top five winners. Photography curator Eric Paddock said: Although the location of Pawnee Buttes—the Pawnee National Grassland—is now speckled with fracking platforms and surrounded by gigantic wind turbines, the photograph evokes the sense of a pure and endless space that has shaped our idea of the American West for 200 years. The gently interlocking diagonals in the foreground, the grassy slopes surrounding the buttes, and the hazy horizon in the distance make this a picture of the place (northeastern Colorado) as well as the thing (the buttes). Smudges in the sky and dark vignetting in the corners of this glass ambrotype only add to feeling one is seeing the landscape in a dream.

© the artist. Photography curator Eric Paddock said: I am struck by the simple lyricism of Zen Reeds. The blades of grass and their reflections float in the frame like music in the air, with just enough space between and around them to make the picture one of serenity rather than chaos. Looking more closely, I like how the water’s surface tension forms little bulbs of light where the grasses and their reflections meet. The reflected clouds and vague underwater shapes at the bottom of the picture remind me of the way some of Monet’s paintings seem to exist outside of human time.

I am drawn to Wheeler Geologic Area not only by the remarkable landforms of the place, but by the way the shapes of the cones of rock, and their shadows, and the surrounding trees echo one another. The picture orchestrates a delicate mixture of sunshine and open shadow in a physical space that is both strange and majestic. And of course both the compressed form and the geological content of the photograph relate very specifically to those of the O’Sullivan and Bell photographs in On Desert Time. The photographer’s hand-applied collodion emulsion emphasizes that interesting historical relationship.