Exhibit turns focus on ghost town of Gilman
If only Google could make it true, Gilman would be a booming town full of singles and real estate agents. A Google search for “Gilman, Colorado” turns up Web sites that promise: “Find your date on DataDate – the No. 1 dating site for single men and women from Gilman, Colorado.”Another promises: “Gilman Colorado’s top real estate professionals; based on experience and accomplishments. We screen – you decide!”But a click inside either of these sites leads you closer to the truth. “Dear Visitor, Unfortunately a Gilman, Colorado real estate professional has not been assigned,” said the real estate site. Inside ghosttowns.com, however, you learn the whole truth. Gilman was a zinc and lead mining town; it sits along Highway 24 in Eagle County. It thrived into the 1950s, and was once home to as many as 2,000 people. But eventually, according to popular legend, the mines polluted the drinking water so badly that no one could live in Gilman, and the whole town had to be abandoned in 1984.”It’s really hard to find information on (Gilman),” said Scot Gerdes, a Glenwood Springs photographer who has visited the town.What Gerdes has been able to learn is that Gilman was always a mining company town, never public, but was complete with an infirmary, general store and bowling alley. It’s true, Gerdes said, that water contamination played a role in the town’s abandonment, but mostly, the mines weren’t profitable anymore. But for Gerdes, the reason that Gilman’s buildings were abandoned isn’t important; what is important is that they were. Gerdes has been drawn to vacant buildings since he photographed his grandparents’ old farm house in Minnesota. “I’ve been taking pictures of old abandoned buildings for years,” said Gerdes. “I’ve never seen any place that had colors like this, though.”Gerdes photographed the doorways and rooms of houses in Gilman, sunlight making the Easter egg-colored walls even brighter. From purple to peach, each home’s rooms were different colors, and none were white. The colors, Gerdes speculated, give some insights into who lived in the houses. “The guys that worked the mine were under ground every day,” Gerdes said. “They probably wanted the color.”Whatever the reason for the color in Gilman’s houses, they did allow Gerdes to create some photographs called “Portals in Time.”Gerdes’ photographs, along with the photographs from other Colorado Mountain College professional photography faculty and staff, make up the show “On Focus,” which opened last week. The show features work from Buck Mills, Lindsey Constance, Jim Elliot, Joe Swift and Klaus Kocher. Elliot graduated from CMC’s photo program nearly 25 ago, while Gerdes, Swift and Constance all graduated from the program in the last 10 years. The photos range in focus from travel shots of hippopotamus in Africa to architecture in Scotland to commercial shots for Coors beer. The show opens Friday evening.
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