St. Francisville photographer Darlene Reaves is a self-described “Katrina transplant,” having moved to West Feliciana in 2005 following the storm.
“I started photographing this beautiful area once I landed here,” said Reaves, a former teacher. “What a treat this is for me.”
Reaves says the scenic landscapes, trees, flowers, even the early morning fog she and her husband encounter on walks with their dogs beckon to her.
“One day, we were riding along, and I screamed, ‘Stop; go back’ and jumped out of the car to photograph a country Tunica road,” Reaves said. “Another time, it was a turtle crossing the road near the old ferry landing. He was a brave little guy. He let me get right up in his face with my camera and didn’t retreat into his shell.”
Artist Joe Savell, who owns Backwoods Gallery in St. Francisville, asked Reaves if he could paint one of her photos, selecting one she snapped at the old ferry landing in St. Francisville. Then Murrell Butler, an artist and St. Francisville resident noted for his dramatic landscapes and bird illustrations, chose to paint the same ferry landing photo as Savell.
True to Butler’s style, a bird was added to his interpretation of the image.
Savell’s artist wife, Dahn, chose to paint a shot of wisteria on Ferdinand Street during another of Reaves’ early morning, fog-filled walks.
“It was then that the Savells suggested a ‘Paint My Photograph’ exhibit, and in no time, 13 local artists had joined in, and we had one unique exhibit in the works,” Reaves said.
Joe Savell said he began sending around photographs to area artists in the summer and early fall, and by January, the exhibit was ready. An artists’ reception for Reaves and the 13 artists was held Jan. 8.
“I had no trouble selling people on the idea,” Joe Savell said.
Amateur artist Carolyn Thornton chose to paint an old oak on Mahoney Road in St. Francisville.
“I’m a relatively new artist and thought this was challenging but really enjoyed it. I’m grateful for the opportunity,” Thornton said. “St. Francisville is an artists’ community. Everyone is so generous and encouraging.”
The 13 artists who took part in the exhibit are as varied in their mediums and styles as their personalities. Some are professional artists, while others paint as a hobby. One artist enjoys chasing and repoussé while another likes to paint burlap and stepping stones.
Each artist painted the photo of their choice.
“Their interpretations are what make this exhibit so unique,” Reaves said.
Savell invites the community to check out the exhibit at Backwoods Gallery, 11931 Ferdinand St., any time between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.