View Full Version : Unique new public darkroom in Denver

28-May-2015, 13:48
While in Denver yesterday, I stopped by to meet the nice couple who run a pretty amazing new creative workspace in the 5 points area. Chris and Viviane have long been artists themselves but like many of us in middle age, are finding mentoring and outreach to be ever more important in furthering the collaboration and sustainment of art forms such as historical (Alt) process and silver gel printing while the personal contact personally fulfilling.

So in March they opened a new facility called “Processus (http://www.processusartlife.com)” with a unique platform for using the facility. While not an hourly rate arrangement, the shop is geared more towards those who would either be regulars or artists visiting the area for a few weeks or more who would more than benefit from having a place like “Processus” in which to work. The membership applies to not just the darkroom but the whole facility which is much more than just film and printing.

Also, at my urging, they put a listing on the Ilford page called “Localdarkroom (http://www.localdarkroom.com/)” yesterday. I really hope this works out for them, they are super nice and very passionate artists who just want like minded individuals to have a place to call home.

If you live in or near or are just visiting the Denver area, come check it out, they would be glad to offer you a coffee or tea and show you around the place.

Randy Moe
28-May-2015, 14:00

Kirk Gittings
28-May-2015, 15:33

Drew Wiley
28-May-2015, 15:40
Those shared workspace environments are common around here in certain crafts like pottery, glassblowing, stained glass, and sculpting, but are difficult to juggle for a couple of reasons. One in related to liability insurance, the other to the inherent risks of sharing tools and equipment - not everyone treats gear properly or knows how to. Reset something on a matcutter or drymount press and it might not work correctly for the next person, or might not work at all, not to mention pricey things like pro enlargers and lenses. A bit of fixer on somebody's fingers get transferred to the doorknobs just like germs and ruins someone else's negs or prints. So somebody really has to be in charge and always on top their game. I've thought about it, but would never allow my personal equipment into that kind of environment.

28-May-2015, 19:48
I hung out with them for about 3 hours and among other things, the potential pitfalls of a shared environment was covered quite a bit. The more people who use film and papers the better it is for everyone.

Michael R
29-May-2015, 06:40
Very cool. I'd love to open/run a place like that in my city. Ain't gonna happen, but I can dream.

Drew Wiley
29-May-2015, 11:47
I'd only do it along with a handful of people I knew very well, with meticulous habits themselves. Otherwise, you're talking about a teaching environment, which is great too, but needs to be operated on a different premise. What could hypothetically transpire is splitting up wet and dry facilities. We could each have our own darkroom, but share mounting and display space. Lithographers often share space due to the significant cost of presses and industrial space. Likewise potters and kiln, glassblowers and art welders too, with their special needs. Around here the problem is finding affordable space that is not adjacent to meth labs or toxic refineries, or riddled with bullet holes every night. The same problem as artists everywhere, I guess. And cute old building aren't necessarily seismically worthy either, like ugly modern commercial spaces. I do know where they are some really nice old historic building where you could get a lease for next to nothing, but have to spend twenty million dollars first to remove all the toxic paint and PCB's before you could move in. Ain't worth it, especially at my age; and
people simply do not reach my age when they are exposed to that kind of stuff.

Randy Moe
29-May-2015, 12:26
I have had my darkroom listed on the Ilford site since it opened, one of the first listed anywhere in the World.

Not one person has responded.

I have had about 10 friends use my darkroom and every one needs 100% training and care during any process. Even ones with experience. It becomes a full time job for 4 to 12 hours.

They also have very high expectations, and will 'waste' no paper, so I end up with many not good prints drying on my screens all over the place.

I toss 95% of my work immediately and never keep garbage.


Drew Wiley
29-May-2015, 13:32
A couple of rental darkrooms are popular around here. But no, I have no interest in teaching basic technique. Once in awhile I'll coach someone who has serious
potential and the personal gear necessary for it themselves. More often it's someone who's already proficient as a commercial photographer with digital workflow, but wants to branch out into a tad of film hybrid or possibly darkroom work to give them an option the competition doesn't have. I'm sympathetic but just don't have the time for that kind of thing. Often they want to exchange free studio rental time for the lessons. Don't need that either. There are a handful of commercial pros doing fine strictly offering traditional darkroom black and white prints. Color RA4 printing is still more the domain of large commercial labs, though it's certainly easy enough in a private darkroom. Now that digital imaging is dominant, everyone seems to be starting to go ho-hum at the predictable tricks. Too much novelty isn't novel. Oh well. I just want a big new Esterly Speedmat. One more slice of my anti-arthritis strategy for geezerhood.

Michael R
30-May-2015, 13:01
Drew, you should give hands-off tours of your facility. I suppose certain areas like the clean room would have to be off limits, but still.

Randy Moe
30-May-2015, 13:14
I doubt that is happening, just as I do not open to public.

We are not museum.

bob carnie
30-May-2015, 13:40
I just want a big new Esterly Speedmat. One more slice of my anti-arthritis strategy for geezerhood.

Drew: are you talking about the matt cutter / glass cutter?. if so is there a new version as I am looking into this as well.

Michael R
30-May-2015, 14:57
I doubt that is happening, just as I do not open to public.

We are not museum.

There are darkrooms, and then there's Drew Wiley's darkroom...

Question for Drew/Bob: a while back I looked into getting a good mat cutter and was considering a Keencut. Not cheap, but supposed to be very good. Any insight on the brand? I assume if Drew is considering Esterly, it is out of my range.

31-May-2015, 15:02
Chris and Viviane are great and Denver is lucky to have them and Processus in the community. Really excited to visit them this summer.