Denver Galleries

Donna Altieri – Ironton Gallery – Month of Photography

50 Years in Your Face – a photographic journal – Feb. 27 – April 4, 2015.

B&W photo, double exposure from 1968, by Donna Rae AltieriDenver – Fifty years of taking photographs is a subject in itself, and a documentary – albeit in still frame – of Donna Altieri’s life and the subject of her one-woman show at Ironton Gallery.

Called Fifty Years in your Face, this show demonstrates Altieri’s skill in compositing an image. All the work is printed full frame and unadulterated by Photoshop. Most are digital, professionally printed ink jet prints, but her earliest work was shot on film.

Her oldest work are double and triple exposures from 1968, where a roll of Plux X black and white film was reloaded into the camera a few times, and resulted in a ribbon of negative without delineated frames. The whole strip is covered with overlapping images. Altieri’s ability to compose a picture comes into play here by defining where draw the frame – what rectangle to print.

Donna Rae Altieri's photograph of an Italian pizzaria from the sidewalkAside from composing skill, Altieri modesty credits magic and luck for creating the lush pictures of people in landscapes that fill this show. It is obvious they come from someone holding a camera with an eye for arranging forms well, layering in texture and finding a subject that is worthy of focus. Taken together, it is also apparent that this photographer has a way with people.

“I’m short, I smile a lot,” she said. She disarms people and they have fun in from of her camera. And when her subject is an interesting scene – like a stone wall with ripped poster – without people, she’s shooting for the folks back home.

After these travels, Altieri is known among her friends for putting together slideshow parties with the images. Good ones. Assembling the slideshow is another use of her composing skill.

A third is the skill with which she orchestrated this show. Works of a series are carefully hung in grids or along a metered line. A few more casual walls of photos of different sizes give a break from the rigorous geometry.

Ten light boxes are an example of one such line. The 8 x 10 inch ??images glowing in the frames were shot on slide film and chemically developed so they are somewhere between a color negative and a positive transparency. It’s not at once apparent what she was looking at when she pushed the shutter. Just as with the multiple exposure prints, Altieri has layered in a lot of information for her viewers.

She smiles and talks about magic and luck, but we know how to get lucky – spend a lot of time at practice.

Donna’s Artist Statement

It all started with a Minolta 101, a college graduation gift that educated me to observe the world through a viewfinder.  Get “hip to my trip,” get tangled in my double and triple exposures of the 1960s streets of New York with so much to see at once, and my 1970s-1980s “experiments” in color manipulation in times without computer tricks. Travel on my journeys, peek into my encounters, and enjoy my storytelling images, all done full frame, always the old school way.  Photography has kept my diary for over 50 years, and now I have the privilege of sharing some pages with you.  – Donna Rae Altieri, 2015

Donna Rae Altieri, photographs at Ironton Gallery, DenverFifty years in your Face, photographs by Donna Rae Altieri, will be at Ironton until April 4. Altieri grew up in Connecticut, graduated from Connecticut College for Women, received a masters degree in Irish and English literature from Columbia University and moved to Boulder in the ‘70s. She’s lived in Colorado ever since. She’s currently on the board of the Colorado Photographic Arts Center, and a small business owner, Altieri Instrument Bags.

View the video interview with Donna Altieri on YouTube.