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Mancos Visitor Center opens new photo exhibit

Visitor Center display highlights Montezuma Land Conservancy
A landscape photo that will be on display at the Montezuma Land Conservancy exhibit in the Mancos Visitor Center.

Mancos Visitor Center’s annual photography exhibit, “Sharing the 81328 Perspective,” debuts with a free public reception on Saturday.

For about 15 years, the Visitor Center has hosted a photo exhibit showcasing scenes from around the Mancos area. This year’s display will be made up of pictures from local farms and ranches that have acquired conservation easements through the Montezuma Land Conservancy during its 19 years of work. The reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m., and several of the participating landowners will be there, according to a news release from the Visitor Center.

Patricia Burk, who originally conceived of the exhibit in the early 2000s, said it was inspired by a feature in National Geographic that included reader-submitted photos from various ZIP codes across the U.S. At first, the Visitor Center would hand out disposable cameras to Mancos residents and ask them to come back with photos of the surrounding area that fit a different theme each year. In 2016, Burk said she wasn’t able to find enough reliable disposable cameras, so she instead asked the Montezuma School to Farm Project to supply the photos. The resulting display was a “big hit,” she said, and she hopes for a similar result from the Land Conservancy exhibit.

The photos on display will include landscapes from more than 20 properties in the Mancos Valley, representing the 6,000 acres of land the conservancy has helped to preserve from industrialization through conservation easements.

Marianne Mate, director of philanthropy and events for the Land Conservancy, said she chose the photos from the many shots the organization’s staff members have taken on their annual “stewardship visits” to protected easements.

“We try to get different seasons, different elevations,” she said. “We wanted to show different perspectives in terms of the different uses and ways people use the land.”

She said she hopes the exhibit will draw more attention to the conservancy’s work, which she said has helped keep agriculture viable in the Mancos region, as well as preserving several wildlife habitats.

Burk said that while the format of the “81328” exhibit has changed, its purpose has not.

“It’s always been about Mancos,” she said. “(The Land Conservancy) is an important feature of the Mancos Valley that works to keep the valley the way we all remember it to be.”

Her husband, Jack Burk, is a former president of the organization, and the couple still owns land in a conservancy easement. In the release, Burk said she wanted the exhibit to highlight landowners’ work to protect their landscapes throughout the area’s history, going back to pioneer families like the Wetherills.

Next year, Burk said she hopes to return to displaying themed photos from Mancos residents, but switch to shots taken with digital cameras instead of disposable ones.

The Land Conservancy exhibit will remain on display for a year and can be visited for free during business hours. In the winter, the Visitor Center is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

If you go

What: Opening reception for “Sharing the 81328 Perspective”

When: 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18

Where: Mancos Visitor Center, 101 E. Bauer Ave., Mancos

Cost: Free

information: Contact the Visitor Center at 533-7434.

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