Alden Spilman shows black and white photos, digital art in Breckenridge
If you go
What: Closing reception with artist-photographer Alden Spilman
When: 6-8 p.m. Friday, March 6
Where: Backstage Theatre, 121 S. Ridge St., Breckenridge
Cost: Framed and unframed prints ($15 to $350) and tie dyed scarves ($20) will be available for purchase, along with a 7 to 8 minute DVD slideshow of 126-plus photos from Spilman’s 1970s collection set to music (suggested $25 donation)
More information: Visit www.breckcreate.org
Rather than hosting an opening reception for his show of photographs and photo illustrations at the Backstage Theatre in Breckenridge, artist-photographer Alden Spilman will host a sort of closing reception for the installation on Friday, March 6.
“I didn’t really have an opening,” Spilman said of his show. “I had just gotten here and I wasn’t really settled and I came and set this stuff up for them. So I thought, let’s have a closing, so I’m having a closing instead of an opening.”
The collection, which will hang for another week or so in the lobby of the theater, includes decades of Spilman’s work, ranging from his black-and-white photos of Breckenridge in the 1960s and 1970s through a series of tie-dyed scarves and other clothing items and on to his current work, photo illustrations created on a computer.
Spilman first moved to Breckenridge in the winter of 1966, when a fraternity brother purchased the Colorado House, now Fatty’s Pizzeria on Ridge Street. The 21-year-old was slinging drinks at the bar, which occasionally hosted a band or two, but where “no one really had any money” and “nobody really got paid,” he said.
“The Colorado House, the water was always frozen in the winter there,” he said. “Of course, it’s better now. There wasn’t much going on here, and there wasn’t a lot of development. All the young people — the new young people — the miners and the people who worked on the dam were still here.”
All of the buildings were original from whenever they were built, the late 1800s or early 20th century, Spilman said, and there was a bit of conflict at the time between the old-timers and the new people coming to town.
“The pipes broke,” he said. “Whoever had running water, there’s where you went to shower. Above the drug store was a favorite place, kind of where Skinny Winter is now, that place always had running water. It’s been a good, long run, and there’s certainly a lot of changes. I have nostalgia for the ’60s and ’70s of what it used to be.”
That nostalgia is apparent in his prints from the era. A largely self-taught photographer, Spilman received his first camera as a gift from his father, an industrial designer who was always taking pictures of his own. Together with a buddy from Boulder, Spilman learned how to develop film and make prints, eventually becoming a photography instructor at Colorado Mountain College.
During his years in Breckenridge, Spilman, who now lives in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, captured images of everyday life in the little hamlet, which was struggling to transition from a mining town to a resort area. His photographs capture street scenes, views of Breckenridge Ski Resort before the development of Peak 7 and kids stacked on a Breckenridge Volunteer Fire Department truck.
NEW ART FORMS
Spilman’s newer work takes advantage of Photoshop as a powerful artistic tool. Some of the pieces are created from the artist’s own imagination, and others begin as photographs, which are manipulated within the computer program into abstract designs. Those designs are then printed onto translucent fabric, which can be hung as a window shade.
Whether Spilman is making prints from his black-and-white photo collection, tie-dying scarves or swirling images into new creations on his computer, he is constantly experimenting, taking what he’s learned to make something different and never duplicating an artistic project.
“I think there’s the nostalgia for the old stuff and the way it was and that timeframe in all of our lives,” Spilman said of his range of work. “We were younger then, the town was older but it was younger — it was quiet — and people remember this and remember that and so and so and that’s that. It brings back good memories of good times in the ’70s when times were good here.
“It was quiet, there wasn’t a lot of work, but it was a small community and pretty much everybody knew each other. The people who are new here are amazed to see what it was like 20 years ago, 30 years ago, 40 years ago and how much it’s changed. The new stuff is enjoyable, it’s colorful, it has motion, emotion, it flows and it’s different. It’s not like anything I’ve ever seen before, so it’s fun.”
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