Edwards resident has work selected for new photography exhibit | VailDaily.com

Edwards resident has work selected for new photography exhibit

Charlie Owen
Vail, CO, Colorado
HL raymond Bleesz 1 Ka 12-24-08

Raymond Bleesz owns and operates Brush Creek Dry Goods in Edwards, but he also has an artistic side. He’s been pursuing photography for nearly 30 years now. One of Bleesz’s photographs ” a profile shot of himself dressed as Abraham Lincoln and outlined by his silhouette ” was recently selected to be shown in the Idea of Self Exhibition in February at The Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins. His photograph is titled “Four Score and Seven Years, Self Portrait” and was chosen by a jury to be included in the exhibit.

Bleesz, a self-described “traditionalist” when it comes to photography, still spends time developing photographs in his dark room and works mostly in black and white.

We talked to him about what it’s like to have one of his old photos getting so much attention now and why he likes our 16th president so much.

Raymond Bleesz: I have physical features that resemble Lincoln. When I grow a beard and put a top hat on … people who saw me commented on the fact that I looked like Lincoln. That was one feature. Being a historian in a previous lifestyle, I identified with American history and Lincoln as a president and a unique character to American history.

RB: I’ve been involved with photography since childhood, I had an early fascination with it. In the 1970s, when I was teaching in Clear Creek County, I introduced photography as an elective to some of my students … I decided rather than teaching it, I wanted to become a photographer so in ’76 I dropped everything and I’ve been pursuing photography as my mistress ever since.

RB: I usually work with black and white. I do not do color, although I can do color. I think black and white is a harder medium … Being a historian I view things kind of as a natural fact. I’m not involved in emotionalism or pretty concepts. I’m interested in reality in tranquility, in solitude, in exactness. My work depicts that for the most part. The images, if you see them, are a snapshot of time, they reflect a mood, a sense of peacefulness. They represent a moment captured in time.

RB: Black and white has to convey a concept. It has to express an idea, it has to express a tangible thing that attracts your mind, your intellect. Color photography, to a large degree, does not do that.

RB: That struck me as kind of interesting. It was certainly an early attempt at self-portrature. I had to go through a lot of old negatives to bring it up out of the archives. It’s kind of interesting that now it is drawing attention. Politically, Lincoln is getting a lot of press these days. Obama is interested in the man. … Lincoln’s bicentennial is coming up here in February, so it’s interesting all the way around that an old negative comes to light again.

RB: I consider it a definite honor. There’s a lot of tough competition out there in photography. It’s a very hard thing. I’d say this is a real success in my repertoire and a real feather in my cap.

RB: Working in the dark room is very tedious and it’s a labor of love. I see photography changing and there are things that I have to adapt to meet those needs, but making a black and white print is something that photographers have been doing since the 1830s.

High Life Writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 970-748-2939 or cowen@vaildaily.com.

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