Remembering R. Skip Kohloff

Remembering R. Skip Kohloff: A Tireless Champion for the Photographic Arts in Colorado and the Western Region

We are deeply saddened by the loss of R. Skip Kohloff (1941 – 2020), a talented artist, educator, curator, and beloved champion for the photographic arts who served on CPAC’s board of directors for 26 years and was instrumental in elevating CPAC’s reputation as a leading center for photography in the Western region.

Skip studied photography at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), where he received his MFA before coming to Denver in 1977. He was recruited to restructure the photography department at Cherry Creek High School in Englewood, Colorado, where he continued to teach for 23 years, inspiring countless photography students along the way.

In 1978, Skip joined CPAC as a member and served on CPAC’s Board of Directors for over two decades, including 18 years as board president before he retired in 2006.

His wife, Lisbeth Neergaard Kohloff, an educator and art historian, also served on CPAC’s board for 24 years (1982-2006). Together, they assembled numerous influential exhibitions, including solo shows by internationally known photographers Jerry Uelsmann, Patrick Nagatani, and Betty Hahn, as well as Colorado surveys such as “Visions” at the Emmanual Gallery (1997), and international surveys – most notably “The Wall/The Fall,” an exhibition of contemporary Eastern European photography (1991).

Skip was a talented artist in his own right and exhibited his photography frequently throughout the West and internationally. His works are included in many permanent collections, including our own, as well as the Denver Art Museum, University of Denver, The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, and the Rochester Institute of Technology.

His lifetime of work was celebrated in “Déjà-View; A Retrospective Exhibition” at CPAC in May 2001, which was awarded “Best Photography Exhibition” by Denver’s Westword that year.

Curated by John Grant, the exhibit presented 95 images showing the development of Kohloff’s photography from the beginning of his studies. In his 2001 review of the exhibit published in Westword, Michael Paglia called it “a revelation.” According to a quote in the article from Grant, Kohloff “has quietly created an important body of work which can only be rivaled by his contributions to the photography community.”

In addition to serving as an educator and mentor at Cherry Creek High School, Skip taught at the Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY), along with Regis University and UC Denver.

In 2003, Skip and Lis received the AFKEY award from the DAM Alliance for Contemporary Art for their contributions to the arts, and in 2006, they received the “Best Friends of Colorado Photography” award in Westword’s “Best of Denver” issue. The award recognized their dedication to CPAC as the “backbone of the institution” who “promoted innumerable local careers and put together a star-studded roster of exhibits that featured some of the most famous photographers in the West.” CPAC honored Skip’s and Lis’ commitment to promoting photography in the Western region by presenting them with the 2014 Hal Gould Vision in Photography Award.

“CPAC and Colorado’s photography community would not be where we are today without Skip’s commitment, leadership, and generosity,” said Samantha Johnston, CPAC’s Executive Director & Curator. “I am so impressed and grateful for the unfathomable amount of work he did to improve and sustain CPAC and promote local artists, especially when resources were scarce. His legacy will continue to inspire and benefit our community for years to come.”

Pictured above: Echo Lake, Colorado by R. Skip Kohloff.