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Different Strokes, Different Folks



Article Published: Jun. 23, 2011 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Different Strokes, Different Folks

'Mountain Trout' by Bob Francisco



frank@mountaintimes.com

A picture's worth a thousand words - and then some.

But it's not another word or 10 that Maria Santomasso-Hyde has found. Rather, it's 10 different interpretations of the same photograph.

More specifically, it's "Different Strokes: 10 Artists, Same Scene," a new exhibition at Alta Vista Gallery in Valle Crucis.

"It's a celebration of how different we all are, how we see things differently, how we interpret things different," said Santomasso-Hyde, who owns and operates the gallery.

Artists were given the same photograph, shot by Alta Vista artist and photographer Joan Sporn, and encouraged to use artistic license to recreate the image in their chosen medium.

To call the results "diverse" would be something of an understatement. Featuring work by artists Sporn, Sheila Hancock, Jean Baird, Tonya Bottomley, Bennette Rowan, John Anderson, Bob Francisco, Brennan McElhaney, Jean Pollock and Santomasso-Hyde, the paintings range in size from a 3-by-5-inch watercolor to a 24-by-30-inch oil.

"The artists, at first, didn't want to do it," Santomasso-Hyde said. "But they all ended up beautiful. I said, 'Please, use artistic license,' and I'm glad they did, and that's how I ended up with paintings in different mediums and color palettes that are all over the place - from really brilliant colors to very realistic colors."

The photograph features a pond in Foscoe, surrounded by mountains and vibrant fall colors - a fine shot, Santomasso-Hyde admitted, but nothing extraordinary.

"I wanted to see what the artists could do with this," she said. "That was fun to see. Some of them just totally did away with it."

Like Bottomley, who removed the pond altogether.

"In the middle of the photograph, there's this brilliant ... sugar maple, and she honed right in on the tree and went up from there - tree, earth, mountain, sky," Santomasso-Hyde said.

Rowan, who's known for her lively depictions of animals, went in another direction.

"In addition to cropping down the image, she decided hers was going to be a duck haven - always the naturalist," Santomasso-Hyde said. "So, there's a mallard in the foreground, taking flight off the lake."

In her own painting, Santomasso-Hyde focused on the sugar maple, multiplying it by three, a number she always found meaningful.

"It was important to me to have a lot of light, but also a lot of shadow," she said. "In order to feel the light, you've got to have shadows. You've got to have both."

But reactions have only been positive, with gallery visitors - even children - enjoying the colorful contrast.

"A customer had their little daughter in here, and she was reminding her parents of a game they play at her youth group in church: Telephone," Santomasso-Hyde said.

The game involves players whispering the same message - or what they think they heard - to the adjacent player, until it returns to the first player. Oftentimes, the final message is completely different than the original.

"Well, that's what this is like," Santomasso-Hyde said. "It's like the telephone game, but with paintings instead of a sentence."

And just as fun.

Alta Vista Gallery will host an opening reception on Saturday, June 25, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with refreshments, wine from Shelton Vineyards and discussions with some of the artists. The exhibit will be on display through mid-July.

Alta Vista Gallery is located at 2839 Broadstone Road in Valle Crucis. For more information, or directions, call (828) 963-5247 or visit http://www.altavistagallery.com.

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