Father/Son Duo Display 40 Years of Photo Skills at Denver’s Lapis Gallery
There is always going to be something cool to take a picture of and life is endlessly exciting for those who look at the world through camera lenses. This is what Month of Photography 2019 – Colorado organizers want us to celebrate between March and April all around the Denver-metro area. Every other year, a multitude of venues and artists showcase the endless magic of photography.
Participating in the MoP collective exhibit this year is Lapis Gallery, 3971 Tennyson Street, March 8-April 27. Started at 13 – A Father Son Retrospective is about an enthusiast who pursued the view with his youngest son for the last 40 years and what they learned together through this shared medium.
Donovan Rieger is a purist at heart who believes that a talented photographer can achieve better work than the millions with their smart phones who let technology do it for them. Back in the long-ago days of film, a venturing photog did not necessarily have the luxury of blasting away a thousand pics on a memory chip with post production rehab. No, there’s only a limited number of bullets, so to speak. What are you going to shoot? How clearly can you translate the eye? Was the picture captured at the precise moment in time – thereby seizing the achievement when the photo comes out as desired? That is the reward for a true photographer, when the artistic vision is momentarily satiated, framed and on the wall.
Don, for whom the medium is an “avocation”, knows what a true photographer knows and taught it to his youngest son Michael. The image is already in the mind and the brain adjusts the photograph in the mind before It is committed to format. With all the years and experience Don has as an amateur, we could assume him a to be professional teaching a photography lesson to Michael that could sound like this: Know your subject and equipment. Survey the surroundings and anticipate the timing. This is where you are and the image is proof you are aware. Appreciate it. Cultivate it. Express it. Visitors to Lapis Gallery this month will see 50 such images spanning four decades by these two gentlemen in their shared exhibit Started at 13.
Recently, with humility and fondness in their recall, they shared more of their artistic story with the magazine.
The elder Rieger picked up his own father’s foldable Kodak in 1947, set up the bathes to develop his work and went out to capture the vision. Since then and almost a dozen cameras later (finally going digital a few years ago) this self-taught image maker gave Michael the vision to “really see” his subject matter with a 35mm SLR starting at the same 13-years-of-age that Don’s father handed down his camera. Michael, who turned professional in 1990, learned the way that Don did. Reading, studying the greats and practicing the techniques of quality photography.
Relates Don, “I found the Zen and Awakening books by Frederick Franck to be useful in developing my way of seeing subject matter. Also, when our kids were growing up we would take our sketch pads when we went hiking in the mountains. But maybe the best way to develop the right ‘eye’ is to take lots and lots of pictures and then be a very, very critical editor,” he believes. “Learn by doing.” In this vein Michael learned preparedness and observation skills growing up, using the camera to create a common language with his father. The darkroom was their special place to advance ideas. Then came digital photography and just about everything but the key factors changed in the photographic world.
While Donovan may not have had formal photographic training growing up his inner creative enjoys expressing his view of the world through cameras, framing his subject matter with craft and a designers eye. Inside or out, Don tells us he is always looking for the photographic opportunity. Quietly disguised as an IBM employee (retired) while raising four children with his wife in the Denver area, this artist-at-heart was out on the weekends with the family, camera in hand. The Rockies were their usual playground and they enjoyed all seasons of outdoor adventures.
Of course a youngster would be inspired by such a lifestyle and imprinting. Michael now seeks to translate his upbringing into his art, be it an etching, a photograph or a ceramic piece the color of the mountain sky after a storm. “I find inspiration everywhere,” he explains. “Watching people interact, watching my dog roll in the grass. Watching the sunlight filter through the leaves or reflect across the snow. Light, emotion and those decisive moments when we are moving to meet each other, those happen all the time.”
Needless to say, Michael grew up in a close knit artistically-minded family. He loved learning the darkroom process from his father and took all this knowledge and nurturing steps further, making photography an integral part of his professional artistic career. Michael often uses his camera “to take notes”, he says, and then in the studio translate those ideas into other mediums. For him the reason to create is thus: “The human spirit lives, it rises to the occasion and carries us through the day. My photographs are born from those decisive moments.”
This Month of Photography (MoP)- Colorado, both Rieger’s invite folks to stop by Lapis Gallery and take up the conversation, Opening Reception March 8th, 6-10pm. Make it one of your MoP stops!
For gallery hours and appointments for this exhibition, please call (720) 331-6402, contact online or see MoP social media for more information about the Denver Month of Photography.
Mr. Don RIP