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Rediscovered photog from 1930s-'60s featured again in fundraiser for OCCHS

A Glenn Murray photo from 1932 shows what the Bijou Street bridge looked like at that time, in a view from its east end looking west. This photo is one of 65 that will be on display in CityWorks 2.0, a fundraiser for the Old Colorado City Historical Society, in a show produced by society volunteer/retired photographer Don Kallaus at the Pikes Peak Regional Development Center that will open with a reception Friday, May 15.
Glenn Murray photo; courtesy of Don Kallaus
       Eleven years ago, local photographer Don Kallaus looked into an estate sale for the late Glenn Murray, who'd died at 98 leaving behind a box of close to 6,000 film negatives.
       His decision to examine that box has proven to be a surprising and satisfying experience for Kallaus, not to mention a great fundraiser for the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS).
       After a well-received show last May of 50 prints he'd made from Murray negatives, Kallaus has organized “CityWorks 2.0” - a display of 65 more. The opening reception will be Friday, May 15, starting at 5 p.m., at the Pikes Peak Regional Development Center, 2880 International Circle. Admission is free and the public is welcome.
       Those who can't make the reception can still see the display. Kallaus said he expects it will remain up in the Development Center lobby for at least three months.
       The fundraising success for OCCHS has resulted from people buying copies of the prints. Kallaus has helped out by donating most of his darkroom time, which at this point amounts to nearly 300 hours, he said.
       Why was there so much interest in local black-and-white photos from the 1930s to the 1960s? It stems initially from Murray's unique life, serving 40 years as a city electrical employee while maintaining a commercial photography business. As a result, several hundred of his shots reveal city projects or events from those times.
       But it's not just the history in the pictures, according to Kallaus. He's impressed with Murray's photographic eye, seeing seemingly
Don Kallaus, whose efforts led to the rediscovery of Glenn Murray as one of the major photographers in Colorado Springs history, stands at the east end of the current Bijou Street bridge (built in 2007) over Monument Creek, the railroad tracks and I-25. The location for this photo was chosen because the angle is similar to that used by Murray in his shot from 1932. (See above.)
Westside Pioneer photo
mundane objects, such as a bridge or a culvert or the inside of a train station “as a field of art” with results that typically require no cropping. Using a 3¼-by-4¼ Graflex film-holder camera (later a 4-by-5), Murray was also “very scientific” about his work, including pertinent details on the negatives, such as the time of day, lighting conditions and what developing chemistry he used, Kallaus noted.
       Since the first City Works show, he's proud to point out, the local Bemis Art School has added Murray as one of three Colorado Springs historical photographers that it believes are of educational importance. (Laura Gilpin and Myron Woods are the other two.)
       Such favorable outcomes were scarcely predictable when Kallaus first delved into the box. Murray's family did not know what they had. Kallaus' motivation, at least at the outset, was personal curiosity. He's retired now as a professional phographer, but it's a hobby of his to seek out old negatives, on the off-chance he'll find something unexpected.
       At the time, Kallaus told Murray's son that in taking the negatives he'd make sure that if anything historically significant turned up, he would “get it into the right hands,” Kallaus recalled.
       That turned out to be a prophetic statement. “When I started looking through them, I was totally blown away,” he said. “I thought, what a perfect opportunity to make it known who he was and what he did.”
       The problem then was how to make it happen. Being retired, Kallaus had the time - although “some of the negatives, it's taken an hour to get it right.” But he faced considerable expense in terms of equipment use and darkroom supplies.
       Taking the negatives to a lab was out of the question. “The cost would have been immeasurable,” he said.
       A big boost came from a single Murray photo, shot in 1948. The location was the Nevada Avenue bridge at what was then the northern city limits. It included a sign beside the road, informing new arrivals interested in construction that “Colorado Springs requires building permits” and to “see the city inspector.”
       Kallaus shared this print (and later others) with Henry Yankowski, the current Regional Building Department director, who suggested the idea of a show at the department's headquarters.
       Not seeking personal gain, Kallaus offered to let the OCCHS, for which he is a volunteer, receive the proceeds from print sales.
       Happily, sales have been so brisk that OCCHS has recently offered to let him take a share of the income. The amount he'll get is hardly overwhelming, but he's far from complaining. It's not every day, as Kallaus can attest, that a person gets a chance to rediscover a major forgotten talent from the city's past.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 5/4/15, updated 5/6/15; Community: Old Colorado City Historical Society)

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