arts

Ingrid Lundahl’s installation “Telluride Outlaws: Exposed in Ingrid's Darkroom” at Telluride Arts Headquarters. (Photo by Eva Thomas/Telluride Daily Planet)

If you have ever had the pleasure of being photographed by Ingrid Lundahl, you've had the pleasure of meeting her. For over 40 years, Lundahl has captured the essence of Telluride through her unique photographs.

Lundahl was the Sheridan Hotel's only guest on Christmas Day 1977. She had visited Telluride on a whim. Once her stay at the Sheridan was over, she drove back to Dallas, packed, grabbed a friend and laid down roots in the canyon.

"Telluride was just indescribable. It really was," Lundahl said.

Since she arrived in 1977, she has photographed celebrities, weddings, festivals and locals.

Throughout December Lundahl’s work has been displayed at Telluride Arts Headquarters. The installation is called "Telluride Outlaws: Exposed in Ingrid's Darkroom."

Prints and exposure strips from 1978 to the early 2000s make the walls of the space look like pages from a carefully crafted scrapbook. There are images of everything from men laughing to a child peeking over a board to scenes from past festivals and landscapes of the mountains. It is almost as if everything that has ever happened within the canyon has taken temporary residence on the walls.

While the installation has been open from noon to 6 p.m. for weeks, Thursday’s Art Walk's features an opening reception from 5-8 p.m.

The reception marks the start of a winter season for Telluride Arts. The organization, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, will open the Telluride Transfer Warehouse most Friday and Saturday afternoons in December for après ski events, featuring local musicians.

Lundahl’s photography installation is an incredible documentation of Telluride's community and history, according to Austin Halpern, Telluride Arts exhibits and events manager.

“Each individual photograph of Ingrid's is special in its own right, but there's something magical about seeing this whole collection together. It speaks not just to individual moments, but collective experiences, and that's what I find amazing about Ingrid's work," he said.

Behind every one of Lundahl's photographs is a story, one that she is happy to tell. The characters that came to life in her darkroom tell the stories of the people who made Telluride what it is today.

"We were so lucky to be young in this town when nobody knew the town was there. We took care of each other and fed each other. It was just an unbelievable time, and a lot of these pictures, I think, reflect that," Lundahl said.

One photo that stands out is the image of two men riding a tandem bike called "Bad Boys on a Bike." The black-and-white image features one man hunched over the handlebars, furiously pedaling while cocking his head to smile at the camera. Another man sits in the second seat, holding on with one hand. He is riding sidesaddle with his legs crossed, a cigarette between his teeth and holding a cup of coffee.

The picture, Lundahl explained, was intended to be an ad for tandem bikes sold at the former Paragon Sports shop. Store manager J. Michael Brown is the man in the front seat, and Ned Mulford, who owned the store, is the relaxed passenger.

"I was enthralled with slow pans at the time, so I told them to keep riding by me. Every time Ned was doing something funnier. My impression was it kind of summed up their relationship. J Michael was the hard worker, and Ned was relaxing while the money came in," Lundahl recalled.

“Bad Boys on a Bike” was printed as postcards for the show. Halpern, a photographer himself, said this was one of his favorite pieces because of the skill it took to reveal the men in front of the camera.

"With a slow shutter, Ingrid panned with the bike, blurring the background and capturing the motion of the bike while keeping the men's faces crystal clear. Not many still photographs capture comedy effectively. This one definitely makes me laugh," Halpern said.

For the installation, Halpern chose small collections like festival and passport photos. For a period of time, Lundahl was the only one in town who took passport photos. The photos are small with blank backgrounds. On their own, they do not stand out, but as a collection, they show an honest and raw representation of the people of Telluride.

Lundahl believes people who were not around when the pictures were taken will still enjoy the chance to see what Telluride was like in the "old days."

"I hope people realize how much people smiled and laughed back then. … It was really a wonderful time to be young here," Lundahl said.

Dec. 28-30 visitors will be able to take the strips from the installation walls as free souvenirs. Lundahl's book "Telluride: The Outlaw Spirit of a Colorado Town" and prints are for sale at the installation. The book can also be found at local bookstores and on Amazon.

To learn more about Lundahl, and for more information about Telluride Arts and upcoming events, visit telluridearts.org.