After another year hosting the work of some the world's most renowned photojournalists, the Open Shutter Gallery is
finishing 2009 at home for the holidays.
Local photographer Gunnar Conrad's Familiar Ground" is the downtown gallery's closing show this year, and tonight's
opening is also the latest incarnation of one of Durango's most anticipated holiday parties. Conrad's annual Christmas
party has been a fixture for more than 20 years, but it's the fourth time it's been held outside of his home studio in
a public venue to coincide with a showing of his photography.
After two years at the Abbey Theatre, Conrad shared the Open Shutter last year for his show. But he has the gallery all
to himself for Familiar Ground," an exhibit of 38 photos primarily taken in the greater Durango area.
I'm psyched to have an exclusive for a month in that space; she's been so generous," Conrad said, referring to Open
Shutter owner Margy Dudley.
We are so fortunate to have that gallery. I spend a lot of time up in Denver galleries and other big cities, but they
don't have anything on her. She's had some world-class shows, and I'm lucky to be there," Conrad said.
Those photos not taken in the area were taken during Conrad's travels this summer in Oregon, Yellowstone National Park
and northern Colorado. It wasn't supposed to be so locally focused, but unforeseen circumstances forced Conrad to
change his plans on the fly.
I drove to Oregon in September to shoot the show, but my truck broke down, so I shot on the way back and I shot more
when I got back," he said.
Expect Conrad's Christmas tradition to continue at the Open Shutter for years to come. Dudley said Conrad's work brings
more locals into the gallery during December, but the arrangement is actually tri-beneficial as Conrad implores his
guests to ante up for Project Merry Christmas. Last year's event raised more than $3,500 for the organization. Conrad
and Dudley hope to exceed that total tonight.
It was his idea, and this year he gets the whole place to himself," Dudley said. He's moved from his adventure photo
work into fine art, and he did it last year, and I was really impressed. We decided it's his show, his party, and I'm
honored he's been so supportive. He's a native, and it means a lot to me."