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A TONY UMILE RETROSPECTIVE
CURATED BY ANGELA BELOIAN AND JOANNE KIRVES
MAR 10-APRIL 9, 2023
OPENING RECEPTION: MAR 10 [6-9 PM]
CURATOR AND COMMUNITY TALK, MARCH 19, 3PM-4PM
“In Italy, myriad cultures are revealed to you simultaneously. Each culture has its own understanding of reality. Or perhaps, each created its own reality. We walk through Italian cities and countryside sifting through these remnants, trying to experience a world that is both alien and familiar.” -Tony Umile 2004
Tony Umile was a Brooklyn-born photographer who experimented with pinhole and in-camera double exposure techniques. His self portraits, images of Italy, San Francisco and New York reveal the layers and complexities of being human, across culture, and across time. He was a founding member of the Muse Gallery and the Longmont Studio Tour. Umile was struck by an automobile in Longmont last August, and passed away from injuries sustained. He was 84.
Umile was a beloved community member and a “regular” at the Java Stop cafe where he conversed with friends over the New York Times, created art and also exhibited his photographs. Our community deeply benefited from his adventurous spirit, loving heart and gregarious personality.
A dedicated promoter of the arts in Longmont, Tony Umile was influential in the development of the Firehouse Art Center where he exhibited photographs and tirelessly supported the work of other artists. His memorial service and the reception at the Firehouse Art Center overflowed with friends, family and fellow artists. Many of those gathered shared a desire to see “a Tony Umile Exhibition” to honor his life’s work.
Born into a Sicilian immigrant family in Brooklyn, he spent his childhood exploring New York City where his father often took him to the Metropolitan Museum. He later moved to Colorado and attended the University of Colorado in Boulder, where he earned his B.A. in Psychology. During this time, he studied photography and operated the lights for CU’s Little Theatre.
He married Laurel Flanders in 1965 and moved to San Francisco, where he worked as a juvenile probation officer. Together, they spent time traveling throughout Italy before eventually returning to Longmont, Colorado where he developed a commercial photography business and joined the Professional Photographers of Colorado.
In many of his landscape photographs he is an observer beyond the present, using in-camera techniques to create double exposures of Italian cities, rich with ancient history. The image shifts and monuments of stone appear fragile and impermanent. Through his lens he captures moving figures as ghosts from the past. In Parlare al Cuore (Speaking to the Heart) he superimposes his own reflection in the center of the image suggesting a deep regard for human history and his place within it.
His self-portraits are experiments infused with curiosity and humor. Layering his own image with reflections of mannequins he explores a complexity of identity deeply affected by his childhood experiences. Growing up as an only child of immigrant Sicilian parents in Brooklyn (his younger sister died at age 2) he experienced loneliness at home but also the strong community bonds associated with Italian neighborhoods. He spent much of his childhood exploring the city and interacting with a diversity of people.
“The self portraits are “fuzzy.” They indicate movement, perhaps ambivalence. The mannequins are fixed, unchanging. Do we project onto them our desires, our fantasies? Which more accurately manifests reality? Which do we prefer?” -Tony Umile 2009
Curators Statement- Angela Beloian and Joanne Kirves
As we began looking through Tony’s studio, we were quickly overwhelmed. He was prolific. We knew this exhibition would only be a mere glimpse into his full body of work. Our goal was to capture how Tony expressed himself through the lens, his unique styles and his use of experimental techniques. We wanted the community to see where his photography career started with traditional color landscapes and portraits to his entrance into the world of black and white photography.
We chose to focus on three major themes in his art – Italy, Mannequins/Self Portraits and Places he visited. We hope this selection of work gives you a sense of Tony as an artist, a photographer and friend. We are grateful to the Firehouse Art Center for hosting this exhibit as we pay tribute to Tony Umile and his photography.
Tony Umile was a quiet, gentle man with a camera. “If I close my eyes, I can see him walking down the sidewalk with his camera bag slung over his shoulder, maybe moving at a slow meditative pace with his hands behind his back. Most often than not, he had his camera with him.” Joanne Kirves
“I met Tony Umile in the late 1990’s shortly after moving to Longmont; we were both among the founding members of Longmont’s Studio Tour. I was immediately intrigued by his unconventional approach to photography and his enigmatic images. I was new to the area and his welcoming personality and quick wit prompted the beginning of a long friendship.” Angela Beloian
In addition to Captured Images: a Tony Umile Retrospective, Angela Beloian curated The Power of Water at the Firehouse Art Center in 2014 (the year following Longmont’s great flood.) Beloian’s paintings reference the biodiversity of her garden. Her work celebrates that which makes us unique but more importantly connects us to one another and our surroundings.
Beloian has exhibited her work at the Fort Collins Museum of Art, Riverside Art Museum (CA), Longmont Art Museum, Denver International Airport, Lawndale Art Center (TX), the Houston Art League (TX) and other institutions. She has completed over 20 solo exhibitions and was honored as a Colorado Creative by Westword magazine in 2019. Her work was featured on the cover of Studio Visit Magazine and has been reviewed in publications including Art Ltd and Westword where she received a Best of Denver Award in 2015.
Joanne Kirves has a BFA in Photography from Ohio University. After three years of making art, she returned to Ohio State University for her MA in Arts Policy and
Administration. She moved with her husband, Kyle, to Longmont in July of 1999. She was the Executive Director at the Firehouse Art Center from 1999-2002. She was Executive Director of ArtWalk Longmont, Longmont Studio Tour Project Manager, and then became the Executive Director of Arts Longmont (formerly Longmont Council for the Arts) until 2017. In 2018, she became the Art Walkway Curator of Longmont United Hospital. In 2020, she returned to her original calling, Artist. She is now a Ceramic Sculptor, happily creating in her home studio.
SOUTH GALLERY: SKYLINE HIGH SCHOOL VPA ACADEMY CAPSTONE
MAR 10-APRIL 9, 2023
EXHIBIT RECEPTION- MAR 10, 6PM-9PM
ARTIST TALK: MAR 12, 3PM-4PM
Logan Rosebrock, Raelynne Baucom, Abby Bason, Liam Seplavy, Jayda Aguilar, Grayce Wojniak, Katelyn Kelso, Skye Little Cloud, Mia Ramirez, Jose Cano Hinojos
The VPA Academy is a visual and performing arts focused program at Skyline High in Longmont, Colorado. In the Visual Arts Department, the students explore a variety of 2D and 3D courses which may include drawing, painting, graphics, photography, ceramics, sculpture, and jewelry design. Each student initially explores a broad base across those areas and then selects a specific pathway of artistic development to pursue at progressively higher levels. Throughout their four years at Skyline the students also participate in extracurricular opportunities that include field trips, guest artist lectures, artist in residence programs, portfolio reviews, and a variety of exhibitions and contests. The works in this show reflect the personal explorations and artistic voice of each student.
STUDIO 64: JOYANNA GITTINGS
ARTIST TALK, MARCH 26, 3PM-4PM
Joyanna Rose Gittings works in contemporary watercolor and spills over into ceramics, fiber, murals, and classic automotive pinstriping. She owns Obra Arts, a bilingual studio and gallery in Longmont’s Creative District, whose directive is educating and advocating for artists in her diverse community. She currently serves as Board President of East Boulder County Artists, bilingual instructor for the Firehouse Art Center’s Art Attack program, and member of the Creative District committee.
“I use water and watercolor paint on paper, clay, or canvas and panel, and am studying the use of oil-based lettering enamels on hard surfaces with the intention of integrating them. I use these materials because they take time and they feel soft and supple like people. I am influenced by Georgia O’Keefe’s use of simplified lines and form, and the German Expressionists like Franz Marc for their emphasis on emotion over reality and use of unconventional color.”
About Firehouse Art Center: Founded in 1986, the mission of the Firehouse Art Center is to inspire cultural awareness and human connection by providing life enhancing experiences through art exhibitions, art education and cultural events. You can learn more by visiting www.firehouseart.org or call (303) 651-2787.