Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Vicky Dorvee

Familiar Faces – David Bjorkman


Photo by Victoria Thomas David Bjorkman’s daily walks have made him a familiar face in Niwot.

You may have seen the most interesting man in the world walking in Niwot. His beard is white, his jacket and shorts reminiscent of a jungle explorer’s garb; his stride is measured and purposeful.

David Bjorkman (DB) and his wife, Victoria Thomas, are Niwotians who met, lived, studied and worked in “unusual circumstances” as told by Bjorkman, and he’s not being dramatic.

LHVC: How and when did you come to live in Niwot?

DB: Victoria built a house here in Niwot in 1976. I arrived in 1983, after our time in Panama.

LHVC: How did you and your wife meet?

DB: During my career I have worked as a photojournalist, war photographer, art director, minimalist color field painter, fine arts instructor, collage artist, illustrator, and book publisher.

I met writer Victoria Thomas while on assignment in the Darién Jungle of Panama to document the Explorers Club Chagres River Expedition, which undertook an archaeological survey of a Chocó Indian settlement and collected artifacts for the Smithsonian Institution.

We lived with Chocó Chief Antonio Zarco, who taught the original U.S. Apollo astronauts jungle survival in case their capsule landed in the tropics on reentry, and we documented the traditional Chocó lifestyle that was quickly disappearing as contemporary culture kept encroaching further into the jungle.

On a second expedition the following year, Chief Zarco joined us in marriage. For the past three years, we have divided our time between Colorado and southern California.

LHVC: Tell me a bit about your walks and why those are important to you.

DB: Victoria and I try to walk every day. However, we walk in different directions and distances since we are working on different projects. Personally, I walk for two reasons: The first is to keep in shape. When we were journalists in Central America, we had to stay in excellent shape. If not, we would lose face and become a liability, ending any chance for quality work. When I am on the beach photographing my Liquid Abstracts series, I work from sunrise to sunset, easily covering 10 miles.

The second reason is I use this walk time as a meditation for creative problems I'm working on, such as editing photographic images, choosing the exact word when writing our blog, or composing the right headline for advertising copy for our website. Sometimes, I'll be focusing so intensely I'll lose track of my surroundings. One day, out of curiosity, I measured the length of my walk, it is 3.4 miles.

Some mornings, when the light is special, I carry my camera. The results are an ongoing photographic documentation of Niwot being shrouded in early morning fog. My daily walk is simply beautiful — each morning I see a broad sky, and a snow-covered Continental Divide vista stretching across the horizon. That being said, an even greater reward is meeting all the different pooches, with their different personalities, and wishing each a good morning.

LHVC: What accomplishments or experiences make you most proud?

DB: We feel fortunate to have been able to work and travel in different places, and immerse ourselves in different cultures. We feel blessed to have had such intense experiences as sleeping on a Lakota Sioux medicine man's floor for weeks at a time to complete a book project about the Sacred Buffalo, living out of a jungle hammock, spending years traveling in the Yucatán Peninsula documenting the Maya and their pyramids, getting in and out of Egypt twice before the troubles started. As journalists, our work has appeared in magazines in over 20 countries. We also worked together designing and producing books and magazines. These are all precious memories that cannot be replicated.

LHVC: Is there something you can share with us that might surprise people?

DB: I began my career as a painter, but when I began to feel constrained by the four walls of my studio, I decided to travel abroad. While living in Athens, I was lured into photojournalism by the turmoil of the Greek junta taking place there. After having been smuggled across borders at night and having a chopper shot out from under me, I'm now returning to the abstract surface of the painter.

LHVC: Do you have plans or a project that you are especially excited about?

Photo by Victoria Thomas David Bjorkman’s daily walks have made him a familiar face in Niwot.

DB: I'm excited about our new website http://www.Zone913.com. While we have a background in traditional advertising, we're adapting to digital, which is so much more immediate and diverse.

In my Liquid Abstracts series, I'm combining my vision for painting with the detail of photography to create pieces that redefine the contemporary seascape. Right now, I'm focusing on the interaction of the ocean and the shore, and the elaborate patterns that emerge. It's a micro-world that lasts for only a second, and my work captures that one, sublime instant before it disappears forever.

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a Q&A series about locals who are seen around in various aspects of their lives. The idea is getting to know the people behind these faces we see so often in our communities. Please send suggestions for Familiar Faces profiles to editor@LHVC.com.


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