Mason Jar Magazine

Buy local. Eat local. Play local in southern, middle Tennessee

Local Art: Patterson’s Rural Perspective Project exhibits at Tullahoma Arts Center

Once Upon a Time, black & white landscape by Tony Patterson

On a rural stretch of southern, middle Tennessee back road near Kelso sits an abandoned house. Time’s peeled the front wall away so that it now resembles a Gothic doll house. A bathtub sits neglected on the second floor and the panes of the back door can still be seen from the road. Even though no one’s lived there for years, the old farmhouse’s lines appear incredibly sound and yet, one can’t help but wonder if one good spring storm might crumble it to so much kindling.

The panoramic landscape is one of local photographer Tony Patterson’s favorite personal images and it’s also one of dozens of rural scenes on display at his recent exhibit, The Rural Perspective Project, now on display at the Tullahoma Art Center (TAC) through March 24.

From southern, middle Tennessee and back again

Born in Ohio, Patterson moved to Lynchburg in the sixth grade. He graduated from Moore County High School and received his A.A.S. degree in Commercial Photography from Randolph College in Asheboro, North Carolina. He now resides in Tullahoma.

Patterson credits his love of photography to his mother, Debra Patterson, a Community Relations professional at Motlow College.

“As a former local newspaper gal, she was always taking pictures of something or someone,” Patterson says. “I got my first camera around my freshman year in high school. In the beginning, I just snapped images of whatever caught my eye.”

When he got to college, he narrowed his focus to commercial photography using a large format camera.

“In the commercial photo world, images are obtained on large format view cameras. The negative size is four inches by five inches and you view the scene through a ground glass and upside down. I was hooked.”

The creative pace of film photography

Patterson’s approach to photography is methodical.

“You have to test and make notes and test again. You adjust your development time, compensate for shadows, adjust your ISO rating for your film speed, and well, so many other things. You have to know what you are doing from start to finish. If the final image doesn’t turn out well, there is no one to blame but yourself.”

His discerning eye eventually led him to focus mostly on black and white film images shot with a collection of large format cameras and vintage lens. He prints his film images from negative in his personal darkroom at home. He’s also developing a work space at the historic The Ole Tennessee Opry building located in downtown Normandy.

When asked why he prefers film to digital, he talks about its focus on composition and the slow-paced process that often gets bypassed by the instant gratification of digital photography.

“With film, you compose each image, make adjustments, meter the light, and then finally take your shot. You move with intent, but slow intent. … You really know that you want that shot, or else you don’t waste the time setting everything up. … In the fast-paced world in which we live, slowing down is a highly rewarding process.”

The Rural Perspective Project expanded

Before heading to the Tullahoma Arts Center, The Rural Perspective Project began as a 15-image exhibit at the Nashville International Airport. The TAC show incorporates 15 additional images including local landscapes, photo-journalistic shots of everyday life here in southern, middle Tennessee, as well as portraits of some notable local folks.

Tullahoma Art Center Executive Director Diane Gawrys says she’s been excited for this long time TAC member and volunteer to finally show his work at the center.

“He’s a very talented individual with a heart of gold,” she says.

Gawrys added that the public response so far to The Rural Perspective Project has been overwhelming positive.

“The public has absolutely loved Tony’s take on the local attractions. He has a set of gas pumps that reminds you of the old days. It was the popular buy at the opening reception.”

Gawrys also says that TAC and Patterson have plans to partner on a photography class entitled Photo 101 that focuses on learning the basics of the student’s camera.

Patterson says his next project will be a book of photo essays entitled, Spero, which is Latin for hope.

Hope is the next thing

For his next project, Patterson says he wants to switch to his Hasselblad camera, which uses a square negative. He calls the project, Spero, which is Latin for “hope” and says it will focus on the daily struggles and scars of everyday folks through both words and images.

“I want to talk about the struggles of others. I want to show the physical scarring, the emotional scarring, and the wounded hearts,” he explains. “However, I want the project to focus on overcoming through adversity. I want others to see the story of hope and love and how it won out in the end.”

It’s a step closer to the mission Patterson’s photography has inched toward his whole life … to let his own heart be seen through his images of others.

Patterson says he used to have a sticker on one of his lens that reminded him that mission: It’s only love. Give it away. “How can you go wrong with that?” he asks. •

If You Go: The Tullahoma Arts center is located at 401 South Jackson Street in Tullahoma. They are open Wednesday through Friday from 1-5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. They are closed Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. For more information about the show, visit the TAC Facebook page.

{Editor’s Note: If readers are interested in attending the Photo 101 class, no date has been set yet. The cost will be $45. Call the Tullahoma Art Center for more details at 931-455-1234.}

To see more of Patterson’s work, click here to visit his Hotshoe board.

{Mason Jar Magazine covers food, dining, arts, culture, events, attractions, music, books, film, and recreation in a cluster of 18 small towns in southern, middle Tennessee including Bell Buckle, Belvidere, Cowan, Decherd, Estill Springs, Fayetteville, Huntland, Kelso, Lynchburg, Manchester, Monteagle, Mulberry, Normandy, Tullahoma, Sewanee, Shelbyville, Wartrace, and Winchester plus the best of what’s happening in Huntsville, Murfreesboro, Chattanooga, and Nashville.}





This entry was posted on March 8, 2018 by in Uncategorized.
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