SEPTEMBER 11, 2003
The Sight of Sound
Local Bands on Film
By Jamie Gadette

ometimes deceptive ingenuity pays off. Masquerading as a photographer, for example, might just get you into a concert. It might also lead to a lucrative artistic career. Felicia Baca has been participating in both scenarios, beating the system and reaping enough creative insight to put on a show of her own. “Writing Music With Light,” an exhibit dedicated to displaying photos of local bands, is currently improving upon the typical starkly unadorned environment of Orion’s Music.

Part One of Two
Music in the Arts Series

Plans for the project started on a lark. One weekend night found Baca intent on seeing hometown rockers Starmy, but also lacking sufficient funds to do so. Somehow, she convinced the club officials working that night to waive the cost of admission, claiming an urgent need to cover the show. “It was kind of accidental that I started shooting for them,” she says. Yet an accidental hobby quickly turned into somewhat of a habit.

Baca continued to capture the band’s live performances at several venues around town. Soon however, Baca found herself with hundreds of striking images—and nowhere to place them. “When you put that much energy into something, you want it to put out there for somebody to appreciate,” she says.

A desire to push the unappreciated art form into the spotlight motivated Baca. Aside from the narrow realms of magazine and newspaper publishing, music photography is more or less overlooked. Those lacking a vested interest in the photos fail to see aesthetic value in exposing rockers in their natural habitats.

Others share Baca’s frustration over the lack of space in which to present their art. “A lot of people have expressed interest,” Baca says, explaining that those wishing to contribute to the project have not been able to hang their work at any other venues. “I guess it’s just not what the galleries want.”

Fortunately, Baca refused to take no for an answer. She decided to forgo elitist venues and instead take a grassroots approach by courting the little guy. A visit to familiar stomping grounds—the Ninth and Ninth area—inspired her to approach Orion’s.

  Concert photography gets its day in the sun in "Writing Music With Light," an ongoing exhibit at Orion's Music curated by local artist Felicia Baca.  

Store owner Andy Fletcher was particularly supportive of Baca’s endeavors, allowing her free reign over all available wall space. Fletcher even suggested she hold a gallery opening complete with an in-store performance by the featured band. Once things started to take off, Baca decided to expand upon the original design. “Initially I just wanted to have my photographs up,” she says. “Then I thought, why not just do it every month and curate for other people?”

Taking chances is certainly something with which Baca has had ample practice. A former social sciences major, she left school with little experience in formal photography. Though the Westminster graduate also minored in art, she was not prepared for the chaotic circumstances surrounding a live show. In the past, Baca primarily shot in black and white and though people were usually the main subject of focus, such aspects as lighting and motion were never as troublesome as those that surfaced in the club. “I didn’t know what I was getting into,” Baca says. “It’s the most difficult thing I have ever shot.”

Yet all of the arduous struggles have culminated in a dazzling display that betray little of the artists’ strife. September’s exhibit is devoted to Baca’s own images of Starmy—vibrant, colorful sketches of musicians at work. Each one manages to succeed in eliminating the lens, thus transporting viewers directly into the action. Plans for next month are still tentative; however, local photographer Kevin Lee has volunteered to shoot the Red Bennies and Coyote Hoods. Lee, who shoots by profession, is waiting to see what develops before committing to the project.

There exist a great deal of experimental qualities regarding Baca’s vision. A sense of limitless opportunity and artistic control hovers around each new development, right down to the prospective subjects.

“If I photographed other bands, it would definitely have to be a band that I was really interested in,” Baca says. “I think that if you didn’t have a complete passion for the music, it would be really difficult.”

Baca isn’t certain as to how long, or with what kind of passion, she’ll pursue this particular venture. “I’m just excited about the unexpected aspect of it all—how it’s going to unfold and come together.”

“Writing Music With Light” will be at Orion’s Music through September. Anyone interested in contributing may contact Baca at

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