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Month of Photography Connects Artists to Industry Leaders

Artists from all over the country were in Denver last weekend to network with the photography community.

Denver Month of Photography is in full swing as portfolio reviews open up possibilities for many aspiring artists. Reviews give artists the opportunity to present their work to professionals in hopes of growing their network and potentially find ways to get their work shown in exhibitions. 

The event, which took place in the Ellie Caulkins Studio Loft, was packed with dozens of artists and even more community members. Everyone wanted to see these emerging artists and what they brought to Denver.

“I wanted to see what other people in different areas work looks like,” said photographer Jason Hendardy. “I’ve noticed that when I stay in one place all the art starts to look the same.”

Raised in San Francisco, Hendardy recently moved to Seattle to get a broader perspective on art. He decided to participate in the Denver portfolio reviews to see what the scene is like here and learn from the city’s photography professionals. He said he was most interested in getting feedback on a current project he’s working on about being a first-generation immigrant and the struggles and triumphs he associates with that. 

Photographer Rohina Hoffman echoed Hendardy and added that she presented work to get feedback not only from professionals but the community. Her first project centered around being an immigrant to the U.S. and her second explored the simple joys of life during COVID-19. 

“We’ve had so many online [reviews], and I love meeting other photographers,” Hoffman said. “It’s great to be in a community where people are seeking support and feedback on their work.”

Colorado Photographic Arts Center Executive Director and Curator Samantha Johnson once sat in the photographer’s chair in these reviews and noted the importance of providing opportunities for new artists. Over March 17 and 18, photographers have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with almost 30 of the “most important” people in the field, including museum curators, gallery owners, publishers, and collectors from Colorado and across the country. 

“A photographer might sit down with a reviewer [who] may not offer up an exhibition right then and there, but the relationship you have just started to build is important,” Johnson said.

First-time portfolio review participant James Fischer wanted to pursue his passion for photography in his retirement and thought hopefully this would be the first step. His work centered around fire and how it changes the landscape of places we love. For Fischer, this was his childhood home.

“This is the first time I’ve ever done this,” Fischer said. “I don’t have expectations. I just wanted to show up and see how people reacted to these [photos].”

For artists like Fischer, it can be hard to find time for a curator or other professional to sit down and look at your work. 

“You may talk to a curator and they’ll say, ‘I don’t have time to look at this right now,’ but at reviews, they’re there to listen and talk about the work,” Johnson said. 

Denver Month of Photography is almost over, but a few more events are coming up in the last week of the event. On March 25, an art crawl for infants and their parents will be at the Clyfford Still Museum. On March 26, there is a Big Picture Launch Paste Party at Cart-Driver LoHi. To find out more, check out the events calendar.

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