Congratulations are in order for Pete McCutchen and James Steele, two photographers whose work is well known to fans and friends of the Torpedo Factory. At the 49th annual Bath County Art Show, Steele’s “Hand on Shoulder” won First Prize for photography, and McCutchen’s “Wing” received Honorable Mention.
“The image is one of a series using ‘cosmetic’ mud,” Steele says. “The person who is modeling for me commented that when she uses the mud, it makes interesting patterns. To wit, we decided to try a shoot with the mud. I have done several shoots, and it makes a big difference whether the mud is used to create streaks or is smeared on the skin. This image was from the ‘smeared on’ shoot.”
Likewise, McCutchen points out that his winning image arose from a similar openness to new subjects and sights. “I had taken my young friend Amanda Marie Harner—whom I met when she wandered into my studio—to an old industrial site to do some shooting,” he says. “She enjoyed it, and did a good job, but in exchange she had me go to the zoo with her. Normally I’m all about rust and decay and old buildings and junkyards, but I went along and did a bit of shooting. ‘Wing’ was the result.”
This year, the 49th annual Bath County Art Show hosted more than 800 entries by nearly 300 artists whose work covered a wide range of visual arts, including photography, painting, drawing, painting, sculpture, and mixed media. It’s a remarkable showing for a Virginia county with fewer than 5,000 residents and a great example of how the arts can attract the attention of creative souls who live and work four hours away—or farther.
“Each year, it seems, more artists submit more works for the Bath County Art Show,” noted The Recorder, the newspaper for the area, pointing out a 17 percent increase in the number of works since last year. The juror for the show was Michael W. Haga, associate dean of the College of Charleston School of the Arts in South Carolina, who told the non-profit, all-volunteer Bath County Arts Association “I found myself wanting more ribbons so that I might recognize additional artists for their strong work.”
Steele adds that because of the Bath County Art Show’s ever-increasing prestige, the event can be a boon for the artists who exhibit there. “They get about $50,000 per year in sales,” he says. “That’s from a show that’s only open to the public about one week”—an laudable outcome for artists and patrons alike.
The Bath County Art Show runs through Sunday, July 28, 2013, at Valley Elementary School on Panther Lane in Ashwood, Virginia. Admission is free; hours are 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except for Sunday, July 28, when the show closes at 3 p.m. See more by James Steele at the Torpedo Factory in studio 343 and at photographybysteele.com. See Pete McCutchen’s work next door in studio 344 and on his Facebook page.