Category Archives: Jentel

Jentel Artist Residency, Part III

When my friend and grad school studio mate Stephen Takacs called with the news that he would be attending the Jentel Artist Residency in Sheridan, Wyoming I just about hugged the stranger standing next to me in the grocery store. I have to admit my excitement was mostly due to selfish reasons. You see, I am a photo instructor at Sheridan College and knew that my students and myself would reap the benefits having him at Jentel if I could talk him into doing an artist talk at my school.

Being the gracious person he is, Stephen accepted the invitation to speak to Sheridan College and also offered to set up his giant camera obscura in the atrium.

Prior to his artist talk, a couple students and I helped Stephen set up the Brownie. It was great for the students to see what it took to unload the gear from the van, put the camera together, set up a traveling darkroom, find water, and set up lights; all before the main show began. In class I talk frequently about the difference between making a photograph and taking a photograph, and the purposefulness of Stephen’s Brownie is a fantastic example of what it means to make images.

Photo by Christina Harrelson

After setting up the Brownie, it was time for Stephen’s talk to begin. My two photo classes as well as a ceramic, painting, and sculpture class all piled into room 207 to hear the artist speak. The talk was great and left students buzzing for days after. Stephen brushed upon his current works being tied to historical references that grounded his concepts in a context that the students could understand. What students were most excited about was the way the talk flowed. He was honest and spoke about the trials and errors that came with being an art maker. He spoke about how one body of work might lead to the next and how you might have to remake a piece multiple times over a course of years to finally get it to the final state.

Now it was time to explore the Brownie. The students were in awe of the sheer size of this camera. Most of the student body has never been exposed to a darkroom, and, oh, how I have missed first time comments on the prints being processed through developer.

Photo by Brittney Denham

“It’s magic” came from onlookers.

Stephen offered to take a class photo of us. While the photo was being composed Stephen directed students to move lights, time the exposure, and really made us feel a part of the process

After he spent the whole day with us, we helped to take down the Brownie. The students were sad that the camera couldn’t become a permanent fixture at Sheridan College, and have even been asked if we could possibly build one. I cannot express enough how much I appreciate Stephen taking time out of his artist residency to share his art making with us. We are truly inspired and can’t wait follow the Brownie wherever it may go.

-Brittney Denham-

Jentel Artist Residency, Part II

Guest Writer: Janet L. Pritchard

The Brownie has been an object of curiosity at King’s Saddlery during the past week; a multi-generational family business in Sheridan, Wyoming, King’s is known for their hand-crafted leather work and quality ropes. As an artist in residence at Jentel in Banner, Wyoming, Stephen took advantage of his close proximity to make images of saddles, leatherworkers, and ropes. Testing the newly re-released Ilford Direct Positive paper Stephen began work with a heavily tooled saddle. The saddle turned out to be the perfect subject for testing his new paper, which seems to have a slower emulsion speed rendering it useless for portraits but OK for still life, because it never moved or complained.

Photo by Janet L. Pritchard
Photo by Janet L. Pritchard

I stopped by to visit Stephen while he was photographing this saddle, the last saddle master craftsman and family patriarch Don King ever made. Although this was not my first visit to King’s, my current photographic project on the real and ideal landscape of Yellowstone National Park has brought me this way in the past, their focus and commitment to quality western tack always impresses me. The Don King museum is a one of a kind treasure and not to be missed if passing through town.

Photo by Janet L. Pritchard
Photo by Janet L. Pritchard

It took Stephen much of the first day to nail his set-up and learn the new paper, but then he was hitting his stride and making great work. King’s staff helped him select and move saddles from both shop and the museum. He had his pick of classic western saddle craft with exceptional hand tooling. Members of the staff generously posed for portraits as well. A few days into his work Stephen was able to turn the camera and make some overall views of the shop with its extensive collections of saddles, ropes, and taxidermy. Today is his last day and Stephen hopes to make a multi-generational family portrait of members of the King family. (I’m sure he’ll post photographs soon.)

Tomorrow Stephen will take the Brownie to Sheridan College and present as a visiting artist. Our time at Jentel is rapidly drawing to a close and the Brownie will be back on the road soon. We post this blog to show you a small selection of Stephen’s time in action at King’s Saddlery.

Photo by Janet L. Pritchard

Guest blogger Janet L. Pritchard teaches at the University of Connecticut. You can see examples of her current project More Than Scenery in Fraction Magazine, here: and here

Jentel Artist Residency, Part I

In Spring of this year, I found out that I was awarded a month-long artist residency at the Jentel Artist Residency Program in Sheridan, WY. This opportunity seemed like it could be just what I needed – the chance to focus on my own creative work in relative isolation for an extended period of time. So often in life, I feel as though I struggle to create new work and complete projects because of life’s many responsibilities, distractions and amusements. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for what I have but – like everyone else – sometimes have difficulty carving out time for creative projects.

Just as I’d hoped, attending this artist residency has been an eye opening, transformative experience. After two weeks, I can happily say that it’s been more than worth it. I’ve been able to hike in sagebrush covered hills, experiment with new techniques (like reclaiming Fuji Instant Film negatives), meet some wonderful creative people, develop new ideas and finally shot some photos that have been in my sketchbook for months.

The Jentel “complex” sits off of a dirt road about 20 miles from the small western town of Sheridan, WY. During any given time, there are a total of six artists – four visual and two writers – taking up residence at Jentel. We each have separate studios and living quarters but come together almost every night to share meals, drinks and conversation. Despite everyone coming from different parts of the country – each bringing with them different backgrounds and temperaments – we get along well and for that I’m grateful.

Jentel AIR. Photo ©Stephen Takacs
Fall 2015 Jentel Artists in Residence. Photo by Stephen Takacs.

With only 12 days left, I’m becoming ever more aware of the temporal nature of my situation. Despite working everyday, knowing that I will have to leave in two weeks gives me an increased pressure to produce. There is still some much to see, explore and photograph here. I have a feeling that I’m going to leave Wyoming in two weeks wholly invigorated but wanting more!