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Summit County photographer’s work featured in Breckenridge gallery

Photographer Joni Potekhen's work will be on display throughout the month of March at Arts Alive Gallery in Breckenridge. There will be an opening reception for her work, along with the other artist of the month, Jon E. Hans, on Saturday, March 12 from 4–8 p.m.
Heather Jarvis / hjarvis@summitdaily.com |

IF YOU GO

What: Artist reception for Joni Potekhen and Jon E. Hans

When: Saturday, March 12, 4–8 p.m.

Where: Arts Alive Gallery, La Cima Mall, 500 S Main St., Breckenridge

Cost: Free

“iPhoneography, Photography, and Pen and Ink... Works by Joni Potekhen and Jon E. Hans” on display throughout ???

It was Joni Potekhen’s son who first got her into photography. At 13 years old, he approached her to take a nature and wildlife photography class at Colorado Mountain College. As he was still a young teen, she decided to take the class with him at the school. After that, she was hooked and began taking more classes and practicing with a camera as much as she could in her free time. Her photographs have now become a large part of her life, as well as her son’s, who now holds a degree in photography from the Art Institute of Chicago.

Potekhen has been hired to take family portraits along with photos for weddings, and some of her food photography can be found on Pug Ryan’s Brewery website. For herself, she enjoys nature and wildlife photography. She now uses her iPhone for a large part of her work. With simple applications, she manipulates her photos to become abstract pieces. Her work will be on display at the Arts Alive Gallery in Breckenridge throughout the month of March. She and local artist Jon E. Hans are the featured artists for the month, and a reception will be held Saturday, March 12 for the pair, from 4–8 p.m., including wine and hors d’oeuvres.

DENTISTRY & ART

Potekhen grew up in the East, earning a degree at the University of Vermont in dental hygiene before going on to major in art. Her father was a dentist, and she began assisting him in his office at 13, giving her an early passion for the industry. In her college art studies, she was mainly interested in fine metals and constructing handmade sterling silver and gold jewelry.

Potekhen and her husband George, whom she’s been married to for more than 40 years, were living in Wyoming when they first began entertaining thoughts of moving to Summit County.

“We had had a restaurant in Wyoming after my husband finished grad school and decided that wasn’t the direction we wanted to go,” she said. “My sister-in-law and brother-in-law who still live here in the county had moved here first, and we’d come down and help them with their restaurant. And then finally it was like, ‘Let’s move.’”

It was 1979 when they made the transition. For over 30 years, she and her husband owned and operated a property management company in the county. She also worked as a dental hygienist at Summit Dental for 25 years before moving to Backcountry Family Dental in January 2012, where she continues to work part time.

“I still enjoy it; I work three days a week,” she said. “I have people that say, ‘So retirement soon? No, not quite.’”

PURSUING PHOTOGRAPHY

It was the mid-’90s when she first started taking photography classes. It was shortly after when she began taking classes with Karen Schulman, a photographer and photography instructor in Steamboat Springs. She became Schulman’s teaching assistant, helping her with workshops and classes and has now worked with the photographer for almost 25 years. With Schulman, she was given the opportunity to travel to Mexico, the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador and Ireland as her assistant. This June, she will be assisting Schulman at a week-long workshop at Focus Ranch, a guest and working cattle ranch on the Colorado and Wyoming border.

It was Schulman who first instilled the idea of using iPhone applications for her work. The photographer went to Mexico for three days for her birthday to take a class about the iPhone applications and how to use them and came back with an enthusiasm for the new technology.

“I was thinking, ‘This sounds dorky,’” she said.

Some of the applications she uses are Tangled FX, Distressed FX, Painteresque and Tiny Planet.

Potekhen’s photography can be found in both the Arts Alive Gallery, a co-op she has been a part of for the last year, as well as The Art Gallery at Keystone Lake, where her work has been featured for the last two years.

“For the longest time … my husband would say, ‘You have all these pictures but you never really do much with them,’” she said.

So she decided to get her work out there after an artist and friend of Potekhen’s suggested she add her photographs to the Keystone gallery where she had her own work featured, and was very successful in selling her prints.

“It’s always a little scary, to put it out there and see if people like what you do,” she said.

Last spring, a different artist friend informed her that the Breckenridge gallery was looking for new artists to add to the co-op, so she decided to submit her pieces and was accepted as an artist to be a part of the studio.

“It’s been rewarding to have somebody say, ‘Oh, I like what you do,’ rather than just saying, ‘Yeah, I like what I did,’” she said.


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