Mountainfilm, Gallery Walk: Jen Buck At Ah Haa East

Mountainfilm uses the power of film, art, and the exchange of ideas to inspire audiences to create a better world. Mountainfilm’s online schedule is now live, including times and venues for films, presentations, Moving Mountains Symposium about The New Normal, parties, Town Talks, book signings – don’t miss Sunday’s Reading Frenzy, hosted by Telluride’s Between the Covers Bookstore –  special events, and the 2017 Gallery Walk.

Check out the Mountainfilm website for more. 

A limited number of Palmyra passes are still available. Buy a Festival pass here now. 

This year’s Gallery Walk is heavy with photography, including images of war and of climate change that play into the theme of Mountain’s Moving Mountains Symposium and new initiative, The New Normal. The work of part-time Telluride local Jen Buck, on display at Ah Haa’s East Gallery, offers a respite from the headlines.

Scroll down for answers to my questions from our email interview.

(Follow Buck’s feed on Instagram @jenbuckphoto.)



Florence Williams is one of the featured author-presenters at Mountainfilm. Her latest book, “The Nature Fix,” talks to an evolving field of scientific research, nature neuroscience, dedicated to unpacking all the positive implications on our minds and bodies from being out in nature. Biologists, psychologists, and doctors and now sing in harmony about the importance of green space to the health of our minds and bodies.

But what about blue space?

What about water?

In “The Nature Fix,” Williams talks about the calming effects of the colors green and blue on our systems. After all, humans evolved in the green and blue world of nature. (It is only really in the last 200 years that people have been increasingly removed from that source.)

According to hard science, minerals in the sea air reduce stress; negatively charged ions in the sea air combat free radicals, improving alertness and concentration; salt in the water preserves tryptamine, serotonin, and melatonin levels in the brain, which help mitigate depression and increase our overall sense of wellness.


Research has also demonstrated that the sounds of waves alter the brain’s wave patterns, producing a state of relaxation – add to that, water temperature. Apparently cool water in spring and fall is soothing to our nerves; warmer waters in summer months relax our muscles.

“All of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea — whether it is to sail or to watch it — we are going back from whence we came,” President John F. Kennedy.

Contemplate the science and that blast from the Camelot past as you examine the watery world of former Telluride local/now Santa Barbara, California-based surfer Jen Buck.

Buck’s minimalist images, her dreamy ocean and seascapes, reveal the outlines of two surfers on a mission, silhouettes in low relief against a contemplative sky at sunset. Another surfer, crouched and intent, rides a muscular stripe of blue and green, the back of a dragon rising from the water, its visceral power breaking the quiet beauty of a world that seems to hold it captive. A shallow depth-of-field image Buck took after an evening swim is an abstraction: sky and sea conspire to create a visual treatise on the color turquoise.


Such images flow along the walls of Ah Haa’s East Gallery during Mountainfilm, exposing a lyrical, visual narrative that feels almost cinematic, always serene and compelling in its restfulness, irresistible in the mystery and wonder the photos collectively, quietly celebrate.

Take a time out to view Jen Buck’s Ah Haa show. In an Insta-world flowing in real time data streams, her photographs are metas for the notion of “fine art photography.” They also hit an optic nerve, serving as an antidote to all the tough talk over Memorial weekend about climate change, dark money, and war. Or, as Mountainfilm’s Katie Klingsporn so eloquently summed up in an article in Adventure Journal:

“…Jen Buck’s serene images could double as blood-pressure-lowering nostrums…”

(Klingsporn’s full story and interview here.)


Below are Buck’s answers to my questions from our email interview.

Q.Why did you come to Telluride and why did you stay?

A. I went to college in Colorado and traveled to Telluride during my free time for festivals and to ski. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the place, maybe within a few minutes after arriving for the first time.

The beauty of the valley, surrounding mountains, and the endless opportunities for adventure are what kept me coming back and so I eventually moved there. The amazing community is what kept me in Telluride for more than 10 years and it is why I return with my husband year after year. Living in such a small town you get to know everyone pretty well and adventuring with friends in these incredible mountains, you create connections and relationships that last a life time.

Q. Why did you become a photographer?

A. As far back as I can remember, I loved being creative. I think I was a pretty easy child for my parents, well, minus the teenage years. I could easily entertain myself for hours drawing, painting, and crafting. Being creative for me is a type of meditation; it makes me very content and happy. The need to create is also an innate physical compulsion: I feel something is missing in my life without any creative productivity. I started getting into photography when I was 18 while traveling through Nepal. I bought my first camera before the trip to record my adventures. Taking pictures has since become a great way for me to express and record my vision and experiences. Photography helps me see the world in unique ways. It enables me to focus on interesting details that would otherwise pass me by. It always keeps me in the place of having an open mind and thinking outside the box.

Q. What is the focus of your particular brand of photography?

A. My goal is to spend as much time in the ocean and in nature as possible and to capture interesting moments along the way. To constantly keep learning and challenging myself on a technical and creative level, capturing mood and emotion, not just the surface image itself.

Q. What motivates you to take a picture?

A. I tend to respond to interesting lighting, inclement weather, beautiful clean ocean swell, offshore winds. Ideas also occur when I am not out shooting, and so I will head out later to try to execute those visions under  the right conditions.

So many talented photographers inspire and keep me motivated to become better and I love constantly learning and trying new things. I recently found my old Canon A2 film camera I shot with for many years and, along with the camera, about 30 rolls of very expired film I am excited to experiment with.

Q. What do you hope viewers will take away from your images?

A. Hmmm, good question. I hope they enjoy seeing a piece of the world from a different perspective. One of my goals with my work is to try and show a sense of place and also to generate a positive emotional response from the viewer. That’s always the challenge and something I keep in the back of my mind and strive for.

Q. What is your relationship to Telluride and Mountainfilm now?

A. My husband and I currently live in Santa Barbara, CA., but we travel a lot and spend time every winter and summer in the home we built a long time ago just outside of Telluride in Ophir. We both find Mountainfilm exciting and important.




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Susan Viebrock

Susan Viebrock

Susan is Telluride Inside… and Out’s founder and editor-in-chief, the visionary on the team, in charge of content, concept and development. For 19+ years, Susan has covered Telluride’s cultural economy, which includes non-profits and special events. Much of her writing features high-profile individuals in the arts, entertainment, business, and politics. She is a former Citibank executive specializing in strategic planning and new business development, and a certified Viniyoga instructor.
Susan Viebrock

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