Sleadd develops colors, textures of Mexico
SILVERTHORNE – Robert Sleadd spent more than two decades exposing the uglier side of life. As an undercover photographer, he shot leaders of civil rights demonstrations. He also worked in the forensic crime scene photo lab for the San Francisco Police.
Now, he’s developing the beauty of the world, especially Mexico.
“I was influenced to do something more artistic and more beautiful than crime scenes,” Sleadd said. “I just like to see different things that look dramatically appealing and colorful.”
For the past seven years, Sleadd and his wife have spent the ski season in Summit County, and for the past 13 years, they have spent five months out of the year living in Mexico in a 200-year-old house in San Miguel de Allende. San Miguel de Allende, hailed by Money and Conde Naste magazines as one of the top 10 destinations in the world, means “the city behind the doors.”
“It still looks like it’s 400 years old because it’s protected,” Sleadd said.
While the couple lived there, they volunteered to deliver clothes and shoes to schools in remote areas, they guided tourists on home and garden tours to support libraries and children’s education and they traveled to remote areas for photo opportunities.
Sleadd overlays textures over his photographs by placing a negative of such materials as canvas, linen or crackle-texture on his image, then printing the picture.
“I like to use textures overlayed on photographs to give them an artistic, or painter-like appearance,” he said.
Sleadd photographs a lot of still-lifes, such as watermelons and limes, capturing them in the precise lighting he wants.
“I’m inspired mostly by sunlight and color and shadows,” he said.
Of his 29 color photographs on display at the Silverthorne pavilion through Nov. 4, Sleadd has three favorites.
One, titled “The Old Door and Kitten,” draws its contrast from a 200-year-old door and a 6- to 7-week-old kitten.
“It’s the kind of picture you
have to look at twice because the
kitten is so small along with this huge door,” he said.
His 11-by-14 print of a bullfighter really stands out, along with two smaller ones framed with a floating mounting technique that brings the images to life.
In his series of elder photos, Sleadd captures a weathered man, a blind woman with a big shawl leaning against a doorway and a charming old woman who sat and talked with Sleadd, even though he didn’t understand her (he speaks enough Spanish to get by but not enough to converse in depth).
“There’s so much energy in “The Happy Old Lady,'” he said. “And the blind woman leaning against the door is just captivating.”
“Sleadd’s photos truly capture the personalities of his subjects and vividly remind us of a world that is not so far away,” said Maggie Butler, Silverthorne pavilion coordinator. “His use of light and textured canvas pronounces the hardships of some of his subjects. This exhibit is of true, old-world Mexico, not the resort-scapes.”
Sleadd has his own darkroom and plans to print more photographs from his travels in Italy, Germany, Austria and Hawaii. He also is collecting images of the word “Idaho” wherever it appears throughout the 44 counties in Idaho. So far, he has traveled through 33 counties and plans to finish the project this month.
“Images of Mexico” may be viewed from 4-6 p.m. today and from 10 a.m. to noon Sunday at the Silverthorne pavilion. To view the show at other times, call (970) 262-7390 for an appointment, or call Sleadd at (970) 262-6363.
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