Gonzo Gallery returns to Aspen with benefit exhibitions
IF YOU GO …
What: Sergey Ponomarev & Veronique de Viguerie exhibition
Where: The Gonzo Gallery, 531 E. Cooper Ave. #4
When: Aug. 22 & 23, 5-10 p.m.
More info: Sales from the exhibition will benefit Afghanistan Libre; afghanistan-libre.org
The itinerant Gonzo Gallery is returning to Aspen for a series of three benefit exhibitions in August and September.
The gallery, which has bounced around various locations since 2012 and last surfaced in 2016 for shows in the former Boogie’s Diner downtown, will open an exhibition of photographs Thursday by the photojournalists Sergey Ponomarev and Veronique de Viguerie.
The show, hosted in Gonzo Gallery founder Daniel Joseph Watkins’ apartment on East Cooper Avenue, will showcase Ponomarev photos taken in Afghanistan in 2013 centered on women’s access to education.
Sales from the show will benefit Afghanistan Libre, a non-governmental organization that supports Afghan girls and women.
Ponomarev’s work on humanitarian issues in the Middle East, and on the global refugee crisis, has drawn global acclaim. In 2016, he was part of the New York Times team that won a Pulitzer Price for reporting on the refugee crisis in Europe.
The pieces he has donated for the Gonzo show include a shot of a girl in Kabul reading a text book in front of a chalkboard, which ran on the front page of the New York Times and came to symbolize the continued struggle of girls to gain access to education in post-Taliban Afghanistan. Others depict a crowd of girls in a schoolyard and a group of men and children relaxing in a park while Black Hawk helicopters pass in the distance.
“I’m very happy that these images can do their duty in informing society and bringing funds to this NGO that works in Afghanistan,” Ponomarev said in a recent phone interview from Moscow, where he was between assignments in Iraq and on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East.
None of Ponomoarev’s work is staged, but its powerful visual language and its layers of meanings have launched the work from newspaper pages into fine art collections.
“It’s hard for me to explain what people see in these images,” he said. “I might personally see my own memories, while some people see an image that is a symbol of something bigger, some might see details like the flowers or the helicopters.”
The Gonzo’s benefit shows will move in September to 601 Hyman Ave., a commercial building controlled by the Hecht family, which has twice before hosted popular Gonzo Gallery pop-ups in its downtown properties over the past seven years while between tenants.
There, the Gonzo will continue the series Sept. 13 and 14 with a solo exhibition by artist Brendan Missett, who died of a drug overdose in February at age 36. Sales from the show will raise funds the Brendan Project, a new organization formed in his honor to support artists struggling with addiction.
And on Sept. 26 and 27, the gallery will host a benefit show with works by Aspen-based sculptor Ajax Axe for her Namibia-based Nomadic Library project.
In previous iterations, the Gonzo frequently married art and activism, both on a local and global scale, from Aspen artist Tom Benton’s political posters to a show visually detailing Hunter S. Thompson’s 1970 campaign for sheriff in Pitkin County — now on a national tour — to an exhibition of protest art by young Saudi artists.
For this three-exhibition series, Watkins is donating all proceeds to their related causes.
“We want to give back with these shows,” he said. “And we want to highlight some vital humanitarian issues.”
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