Meet Denver Photographer Mark Sink

Photographer Mark Sink’s latest retrospective explores the intersecting themes of family, community, and art and how they inform his work.

Photographer Mark Sink
Photo by Antony Camera.

Photographer Mark Sink’s romantic, ethereal wet-plate work is exhibited and collected internationally, but he will always be best known for his photos of New York City’s art scene during the 1980s. Indeed, Sink—whose images of Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat, and Grace Jones are iconic—says he’s been focused on getting his work archived into the Library of Congress and The Andy Warhol Museum, as well as in local museums like History Colorado. Continuing the deep delve into his own archive, “Typed Live, Excuse Errors” is a retrospective of his work opening mid-month at RedLine Contemporary Art Center. The exhibit examines how the seemingly unrelated aspects of friends, family history, art, and photography interconnect and influence his work.

“I was asked by RedLine director Louise Martorano. I used to curate a show there every two years for the Month of Photography Denver festival, but this year she said, ‘Let’s do you.’ I was very hesitant and had to think about it. I came back with a show based on the story of all the people and community that formed my life and art.”

“A career retrospective is frightening really, but also exciting and very introspective. It’s easy to write out the narrative because it’s me and my family, and I have done countless hours of research. The hard part is putting myself in the spotlight; I am good at exhibiting other people’s work, but myself is another story.”

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“I am a romantic. Taking photographs makes me happy. When a great image comes up in the darkroom, I start dancing with glee. I call it dancing in the darkroom. That’s what it’s all about—and to remember and capture time. I am a hoarder of images. To catch that atomic particle of light in silver is magic.”

“To use an old one: A picture is worth a thousand words. It’s my medium of storytelling. The more a picture tells you a story, the more I like it. I think it’s the key to any great photographic capture. It can be a powerful agent of change. I have past chapters in life of working as a photojournalist for The New York Times and several dozen cover feature stories for Westword. I will be showing some of my past cover stories in the retrospective.”

“I believe it’s important to get to know your subject and spend as much time with them as possible. Most all my personal work is with people who are very close to me—friends, family, and artists I work with photographing their work. I very much dislike travel photography and photographing third-world poor or anyone in fast passing. Spend a day with a person and it will change your life.”

“A crazy important mission that needs to be addressed with this giant baby boomer generation of artists retiring is that there are countless archives of great work and great art institutions’ ephemera and exhibition records that need a home and safe storage space for future generations. Andy Warhol knew this well with his time capsules of keeping everything. Even if this is just a big purgatory space, we need an art storage archive center in Denver, like a warehouse on the edge of town. This is my photography-related dream project.”