Local Spotlight: Douglas Kenyon Collection
For a small town, Steamboat Springs sure has a lot of amazing artists, craftsmen, and talented people in general. We are so lucky to get to work with so many creative and interesting folks, and would love to share some of their work with you too!
Doug Kenyon of Douglas Kenyon Collection here in Steamboat is a great example of talent, creativity and Western style. His large scale reproductions and hand coloring of centuries-old photographs and engravings are absolutely stunning, and the process that he goes through to create them is fascinating! I recently visited his downtown gallery and was treated to a personal tour of his collection, as well as a look into the history and story of many of the individual pieces themselves. What I learned was amazing.
With a background in both painting and photography, Douglas Kenyon began his career in photo restoration when he was on a trip through Montana in 1970. He came across the estate sale of L.A. Huffman, a photographer who captured the beauty, danger and culture of the American West in the late 1800s, and Douglas, realizing the value of what he had before him, purchased the entire photographic estate. With his knowledge of art and nature and his eye for color, he began restoring each photo in a caring and time consuming process of by-hand recoloring.
Over time, Doug sought out and acquired the rights to more and more iconic photographs, with subjects ranging from all aspects of frontier life, to historic documents, to the original engravings of John James Audubon. All of these works are on display in his Steamboat gallery, and each has its own special meaning and significance. I personally loved them all for different reasons, but I think my favorite that I saw on my visit to Douglas Kenyon Collection was “The Two Bills”- a panorama of the crew of a travelling rodeo show, complete with Buffalo Bill himself, as well as (if I can remember correctly from our conversation), 200+ other performers in costume. Mr. Kenyon blew this original image up to massive proportion, and then hand colored and detailed each individual face and outfit. It’s amazing!
Another beautiful style of work that Douglas prides himself on is the updating of “gold tone” photographs. From the DKC website:”An Orotone or Gold Tone is just one of many types of photographic prints which can be produced from a negative. A gold tone is created by printing the positive image on a glass plate pre-coated with silver gelatin emulsion. Following exposure and development, the emulsion is coated with banana oil infused with cold-colored pigment, yielding a gold tone image.” The result of this process is a deep, warm, and inviting photograph that is completely unique in it’s style. Here’s one of my favorites from Mr. Kenyon’s collection:
Doug has called the Yampa Valley home for over 20 years, and is a well known and respected member of the art community, as well as the larger community as a whole. I was thrilled to tour his gallery and to learn so much about his process. His love for what he does shows through in his work, and in his excitement about sharing it with others. When you find yourself in downtown Steamboat Springs, the Douglas Kenyon Collection is a necessary stop! Click here to visit the DKC website and see more of the Old West coming back to life!