Telluride Gallery August Art Walk: “Altered State,” Photography of Carl & Caleb Marcus!

Telluride Gallery August Art Walk: “Altered State,” Photography of Carl & Caleb Marcus!

Telluride Arts’ First Thursday Art Walk is a festive celebration of the art scene in downtown Telluride, Participating venues host receptions to introduce new exhibits. August Art Walk takes place Thursday, August 1, 5 – 8 p.m.

Gallery 81435 presents Micheline Klagsbrun’s latest body of mixed-media work on paper which originated in a found object: a ledger containing observations of the 1874 Transit of Venus, a phenomenon occurring every 243 years when the planet Venus moves across the face of the sun twice.

Slate Gray Gallery presents “Gone Global,” an exhibit featuring Brazilian-born sculptor, Mozart Guerra, and a fine jewelry collection by the mother-daughter duo, Sloane Street.

MiXX Projects + Atelier features work by Sarah Winkler, Ellen Koment, and Katie Heffelfinger. “Grounded” explores the titular concept from physical, cultural, and geological perspectives across a variety of media.

And the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art presents the photographic work of artists, Carl and Caleb Cain Marcus, a father and his son offering up an “Altered State.” For details, please scroll down the page.

Go to Telluride Arts to read about the work  in all of the participating galleries.


The father’s new body of work looks like nature seen through a kaleidoscope, shapes pregnant with their next incarnation as the dial (and the world) turns.

The son’s new body of work is reminiscent of the spiritual landscapes of Mark Rothko.

Human nature and Mother Nature appear to be of paramount importance to both gifted artists, but not so much their explicit forms, rather in the all-pervasive, persistent sense of energy and change that animates those forms – and life itself. Though sharply contrasting in subject matter and feel, the photographic works of Carl and Caleb Cain Marcus share a dreamlike quality that clearly transcends mere reportage to reveal something about place and time beyond the overt details of place.

Father and son, then, are pioneering modernists, who explore their photographic art with complete authenticity and an easy lyricism. Collectively their riffs on Mother Nature become jumping off points for a dialogue about the spiritual and the magical, the sublime and the romantic.

The two men also share a gift for paring down an image to its essence. Their disparate work is monumental, but never shouts.

Their new body of work, hauntingly impactful, bravura visual “narratives” are now on display at the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art through August. The show, titled “Altered State,” opens in concert with Telluride Arts First Thursday Art Walk, August 1, 5 – 8 p.m. Both artists will be in attendance.

Carl’s “Kaleidoscope” work essentially represents a rebirth, or reenergizing, of his past imagery. In contrast, Caleb endeavors to give physical, visible form to whatever is left that dissipates into thin air and the Original Source following death. Visual force fields, these images, while grounded in the natural world, seem to capture and contain spiritual energy.

Carl, the father, moved with his wife to Telluride the summer of 1978. He raised Caleb in a cabin on Wilson Mesa, and began taking photographs on the long backpacking trips he took with his son. After Caleb took up his father’s art form, he went on to earn an MFA at Columbia University in New York City, where he has lived and worked for the past 15 years.

“Our commonality may be that we attempt to communicate, beyond the content of the image, the space that may open a doorway to what we do not know,” Carl said in an interview a few years ago.

Every year, Carl  Marcus spends at least six months alone in nature: “When I look at a rock, or a flower, or a cloud, it seems to have an immensity, a power to it that stops time.”

To create this new body of work, a project that was decades in the making, Carl went back through his own archive, scanning and digitally manipulating photographs originally created using traditional film, to make the mirrored, repeating, and compelling surreal effects on display at the Telluride Gallery. Ruminations on color and form.  Landscapes stripped bare to reveal their essence.

In Arches Lichen, green foliage repeats, like dabs of paint interrupting the red-brown expanses of desert dirt. Rock faces become stretches of texture repeated on each side of the image and wrapping around to hold the image’s heart-like center. Water Ripples Green Lighter Blue looks like reflective reptile scales repeated over and over. In Cloud Variation, the repetition is subtler: washes of blue and violet blur into pillows of light white, the focus on color fields recalling his son’s recent work.


Caleb’s new abstracted landscapes include marks made with a grease pencil, giving his images an arresting physicality, surrogates for the presence of man in an otherwise serenely hushed setting.

Caleb published this work in his second photographic monograph, “A Brief Moment After Death” (Damiani, 2018). Later he put out another book, “A Line in the Sky.” A book of red monochromatic photographs, “Iteration,” is due out from Damiani press in September 2019.

As a starting point for “A Brief Moment After Death,” Caleb took as his subject New York and California’s coastal landscapes, then quickly expunged any clear references to geography. His ambitious goal: to depict the body’s release of energy back into the universe just after we die, when the heart stops, but science says consciousness continues to function if only for a few seconds.

Those who have had a near-death experience have collectively codified the following sequence of events: first a sense of peace, followed by a separation from the body. The person then enters into darkness, and sees a bright light like the end of a tunnel. Finally, the person enters the light and interacts with an entity, described as God, Allah, or simply a universal cosmic force.

A new father, Caleb found in the experience of watching his young daughter’s life blossom a reminder of how much and how richly he had already lived. As he writes in “A Brief Moment after Death”:

“She was moving toward life in all its brilliance and I toward death.”

In A Brief Movement 22, Caleb’s marks create a dark cloud, hovering over barely discernible waves against a deep orange expanse of sky.


In A Brief Movement 17, the marks are lighter and spread from one end of a field of light blue and pink to the other.

One critic described Caleb’s intrusions this way:

“The markings seen in this series of images were supposedly random, but did not feel like it. Much like Anastasi’s drawings, Cain Marcus’ images echo automatic drawings attesting to the artist’s lack of control… which brings us back to the nature of death and life and the seemingly random influences of how and where they will touch all of us.”

Writing in the introduction to Caleb’s previous book “Goddess,” novelist Richard Ford, described “everything in every frame” of the work as “enticingly, visually, sometimes mysterious in play.”

He went on to critique the images as “photographic glimpses” that “measure up to the world’s spacious wonders.”

Caleb himself recently explained that “space isn’t something empty—it has a physical presence, a weight, a density.” In “A Brief Movement,” color and marks give presence and weight to what otherwise might be a vast emptiness.

Caleb’s photographs have been published in Orion, PDN, Conde Nast Traveler, Polka, Fisheye, The Scotsman, Time Lightbox, Smithsonian, Hyperallergic, National Geographic and Slate, among other outlets internationally.

His work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Getty Museum, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the High Museum of Art and other notable venues.

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