The idea for FOCUS: 24 Hours in the Pikes Peak Region was born last December, at a photo exhibit at UCCS' Gallery of Contemporary Art. There, under the banner of the Circle of Confusion, the name of a group of loosely associated local photographers, hung a spectacular array of photos. Though I had known the individual work of many of the photographers in the show, seeing them hung together made a huge impression. I realized for the first time the incredible depth and talent of the photography community in Colorado Springs.
Rodney Wood, the director of the Business of Art Center, and I began talking that night. Soon we enlisted Shewmaker's Camera Shop, and secured sponsorship from them in the form of a grand prize.
We planned throughout the spring, and in early summer began promoting what we hoped would evolve into a community wide effort -- a 24-hour shoot, a photo contest open to photographers of all levels of expertise, of any subject matter so long as it resided within the loose boundaries of the Pikes Peak region.
Since this was a first time endeavor, we had no idea what kind of results to expect.
We were delighted when photos began rolling into the Business of Art Center on a recent Saturday and Sunday. Enthusiastic photographers shared their photos and their stories with us. Landscapes, portraits, impressionistic, representational, color, black and white, traditional and experimental technique -- a wide range of individual expressions soon began to gather.
What was most striking was the spirit of those who participated, and their obvious affection for the loosely defined subject -- the place where we live.
The photos printed in these pages represent a little more than half of the show hanging now at the Business of Art Center. Due to space limitations, we had to limit our choices. They are arranged in no particular order, though they are grouped under the vague categories of places around town, people, and visions of natural beauty.
The cover photo, taken by local artist Carol Dass, suitably represents the nature of the project. While some artists carefully planned their subject matter and pursued it during the 24-hour time frame, others, like Carol's, turned out to be pure serendipity:
"I was driving around in desperation on the Sunday morning (July 24). I was trying to put myself into a photojournalistic mode, trying to capture a great moment that was happening somewhere," said Dass. "I was really just lost. At 11:20 a.m., I had less than an hour left. I stopped at these friends' house, and I was down in the basement. I saw this eyeball hanging off the wall, so I asked their little girl if she would wear it out in the front yard, holding her doll. The picture just kind of happened; it really represented the neighborhood, I thought. It was kind of the opposite of me finding this serious, meaningful picture. It was really just a lot of fun."
FOCUS: 24 Hours in the Pikes Peak Region has turned out to be a labor of love for most of us involved. The resulting photos form a photographic tribute to our home -- a place we too often love to hate, a place of great contrasts, a place of tremendous natural beauty, a place in the throes of change but with a foundation of solid rock. We can disagree about most everything in this dynamic place, but about one thing I think we all agree -- there's no other place we'd rather be.