David Kadlec took a serious interest in shooting when he thought he himself might be shot. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1972, when many soldiers were being shipped to Vietnam.
So he intervened for himself, enlisted for three years and got an assignment as a military photographer in Colorado.
“But I thought, ‘I’ll never really be a real photographer,’” he said.
The Minneapolis native was wrong. Kadlec, now 60, has been a professional photographer ever since and now melds multiple photos on the computer to compose a single, free-form, painting-like work.
He exhibits his efforts, and the work of others, at Jacksson Contemporary Art, which he owns and operates with wife, Susie Sawin, a local dentist, painter and jewelry maker. It functions as the only freestanding gallery here.
The newlyweds — they married in May, the same month they opened the gallery — also plan to open a silversmith shop in the space by February to make and display their original jewelry.
While he loves his other work as a home-energy analyst, he sees his gallery role as especially wonderful.
“I just love the idea of being able to place art into people’s lives,” he said.
But getting him to gauge his own abilities is challenging, even though his digital composite images have found permanent homes in galleries and private collections.
His modesty runs as deep as his creativity, especially when he’s asked to compare his art with that of others featured at Jacksson.
“Oh, gosh,” he said in a soft voice. “I wouldn’t even know how to include myself in that trajectory.”
Could you do your art without the digital alteration?
I could do it (with multiple exposures and more). But it would be deeply challenging.
What do you want viewers of your photos to see or feel?
I want them to be delighted, and I want the works to trigger thoughts of beauty and their own sense of creativity.
What’s the greatest compliment a viewer can offer?
When they ask, ‘Is that a painting?’ If I have created something that has triggered that question, then that’s really lovely.
Are there any links between your photography and your other work as a home-energy analyst?
To me, absolutely everything feels connected. I love art. And I love the earth. I became an energy geek in the late 1970s.
What do you want to do in the future?
I want to take my art to a deeper, richer level than it is now. And I want to put the best art (of others) in the world right here.