Kathryn Rutherford Blog Header

Kathryn Rutherford Blog Header

Sunday, October 30, 2011


"There was a pall, a certain sadness because
you know an era was coming to an end."  
Randy Moore

"If it comes to an end, I'll be the first to cry."
Ann Curry

     Thursday, December 31st, 2010, history was made in the small prairie city of Parsons, Kansas.  At the end of the day, when the doors closed at the family business of Dwayne's Photo an era in photography officially came to an end.  The last operating machine left in the world for processing colour slide film was shut down and scheduled to be sold for scrap. 
     "It's more than a film, it's a pop culture icon," said Todd Gustavson, a curator from the George Eastman House, a photography museum in Rochester, New York housed in the former residence of the Kodak Company's founder.  "If you were in the postwar baby boom it was THE color film, no doubt about it."
     Requiring accuracy to both shoot and develop, Kodachrome gave skilled users a richness of colour and a unique treatment of light that many described as uncomparable as they make the shift to digital cameras.
     "Makes you think all the world's a sunny day," Paul Simon sang in his 1973 hit "Kodachrome" which pleaded, "Mama, don't take my Kodachrome away.  But, take it away they did. 
      Created in 1935, Kodachrome was an instant hit as the first film to effectively render accurate colour.  Even when it stopped being the primary film for chronicling daily life----as a result of the move from slides to prints---it continued to be the film of choice for hobbyists, medical professionals and particularly photographers submitting images to National Geographic. 
     Steve McCurry, one such photographer who's work has appeared for decades in National Geographic Magazine, including his well-known cover portrait, shot in Kodachrome, of the Afghan girl with the piercing eyes, that highlights what he describes as the "sublime quality" of the film.  When Kodak stopped producing the film last year the company gave McCurry the last roll, which he hand-delivered to Dwayne's Photo to be processed.
     "I wasn't going to take any chances," he explained. 
     With the film previously discontinued, Kodak then stopped producing the chemicals needed to develop it, only providing Dwayne's Photo with enough to continue processing until the end of 2010.  Right on schedule, on the last week of the year, the lab opened up the last remaining canister of blue dye.
     As news media around the world heralded December 31st, 2010 as the end of an era, rolls of the discontinued film that had been hoarded in freezers and tucked away in drawers, sometimes for decades, flooded into Dwayne's Photo from six continents.
     In the last weeks of the year dozens of visitors and thousands of packages raced to the lab and, for a moment in time, transformed his small city into the center of nostalgic history. 
     Railroad worker, Jim DeNike, loaded nearly fifty thousand developed slides from one thousand five hundred and eighty rolls of film into his older model maroon Pontiac explaining that every picture was of railroad trains (another vanishing piece of history) and that he had borrowed from his father's retirement fund to pay for developing the images.  Total cost for processing....$15,798.00.
     When Dwayne Steinle transformed his mainstream photography studio to specialty niche imaging he was warned more than once by a Kodak representative that his area was too sparsely populated for such a studio to succeed.  Now celebrating a seventy-five year span in business Dwayne's Photo proved one for the history books by specialties like black and white and print to print developing, culminating with the processing of Kodachrome. 
     One of the toughest decisions for the lab was how to deal with the dozens of requests from amateurs and professionals alike to be the one who provided the last roll of film to be processed. 
In the end, it was determined that the roll belonging to the owner, Dwayne Steinle, would be the last.
     It took three tries to locate a camera that operated, but shot of the Steinle house, family and scenes of downtown Parsons were all recorded.  For posterity, the last frame was planned for Thursday, December 31st, 2010 to be a photo of all the employees of Dwayne's Photo wearing specially printed shirts which proudly boasted the following message: 
The best slide and movie film
in history is now retired
KODACHROME:  1935-2010
     My personal Kodachrome collection spans three generations of family photographic history, world travels, and educational materials and programs prepared for teaching.  Over sixty years of transparent colour and priceless information forever recorded on, not the pixilated reflection of a computer screen or in a stack of flimsy prints recently pushed out of the home computer, but viewed in the warm glow of a projector pulling vivid images one after another from a carousel of

     "If it comes to an end, I'll be the first to cry," wrote Ann Curry.  Hand me a tissue, please, I have to blot my tears as I say my own goodbye to another piece of photographic history. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011


"We have lost our way on our path.  
It is time to do things in a way that respects our spirit, our ancestors,
and where we come from."
Lisa Brown

"Oh, To Be Sailing" An Original Oil Painting by Kathryn Rutherford
Anna Barbara Schmid/Ives, Walter Maison Ives, Edward Francis Ives

The following article appeared in newspaper print Friday, December 24, 2010
and is reprinted here for all my Blog Followers to enjoy. 

        Spirits abound at the Heirloom Art Studio, on Wears Valley Road, but they aren’t your ordinary Christmas Spirits and, most definitely, are not the frightening kind of apparitions you find fading in and out of late night horror movies.
The transparent Spirits Kathryn Rutherford paints at the Studio are the ancestors of families she expertly depicts to tell extraordinary stories of ordinary lives.
        Heirloom Art Studio, established in Canada, in 1980, was relocated to Wears Valley in 1999.  In the building at the top of the driveway, directly across the street from Valley View Road, the Studio houses the five company operations of Kathryn and Greg Rutherford and their daughter, Tania, the newest partner.  Everything from specialty and New Age gifts to graphic and web design, custom screen printing, personalized merchandise, fine art and photographic restoration ships from this unassuming building.
        In 2004, Kathryn Rutherford, an award-winning, internationally known fine artist, instructor and restoration artisan with a thirty-five year career, sent her fine art talents and techniques in new directions when she painted a series of original oil paintings commemorating the historic Headrick Chapel and Cemetery located at the western end of the Valley.
        As part of a fund-raising activity to restore the Chapel, these works were painted to include ancestors of Valley families associated with the property.  While many persons are seen standing throughout the exterior grounds of one painting, it is the interior painting which is most intriguing and sets Kathryn’s artwork apart from most portrait artists.
        “The Guardians of Headrick Chapel” depicts the see-through visions of Chapel families and former attendees and this particular painting has been awarded several distinguished awards.
        Tomi Melson, Executive Director of Piedmont Craftsmen Guild, Winston-Salem, N.C., was the single juror for one of the exhibitions where the painting hung.  In her Juror's Statement she said, "I was so captivated by Kathryn Rutherford's painting, by her ability to create a provocative narrative with her technical skill, that I have awarded her an Award of Distinction.”
        Spirit Paintings caught the attention of the public and clients began ordering them custom commissioned to depict their own family ancestors and family stories.
        “Of the hundreds of portraits I’ve painted throughout my career,” says Rutherford “it would be odd to paint a living customer in the same work along side their ancestors who long ago passed away.  I could create several separate portraits, but how original is it when the painting tells a family story, depicts places of interest to that family, and includes multi-generations all in one original work of fine art.  I simply choose to depict the passed-on family and friends as Spirits who return to be an important part of the composition.”
        “I’m having the most wonderful time with this way of providing genealogical history to my customers and telling special family stories in the process,” explains Rutherford.   “Each painting is new and exciting.  Each one presents a one of a kind challenge to create and the results are individual.  The finished paintings often bring tears of joy to those depicted in the work, or those ordering reproduction prints, because often family members do not have high quality photographs of those in the paintings.  Many times relatives have never seen their ancestors until I paint them and present a finished work of art.”
        An example of just such a case are two large works Kathryn painted originally just for herself.  Positioned in the kitchen of an historic farmhouse museum in Canada, where she grew up on Lake Erie, the painting portrays the artist drinking tea out of her Great-Grandmother’s tea cup and gazing out of the window at the activity taking place on the lake.   Appearing out of the shadows are Rutherford’s Great-Grandparents.
        As one of the last Tall Ship Captains on the Great Lakes, one of Captain Frank Ives’ ships appears in the clouds on the horizon. 

"The Cooking Lesson" an Original Oil Painting by Kathryn Rutherford

The companion painting in this series shows a broader view of the kitchen where Kathryn’s cousin, Kristen Ives, appears in costumed dress.  As Assistant Curator of the museum, her role is to instruct school groups and the general public in the way of life on an 1800’s working farm. 

Georgina Siddall Ives (1850-1931)
        Assisting with kitchen preparations, over her shoulder, is Kristen’s own Great-Grandmother, Georgina Siddall Ives.
        “Until I presented her with a reproduction of this painting,” says Kathryn “Kristen had never seen an image of her Great-Grandmother.  As one of the key genealogy historians in my family, it was fabulous to not only supply her with her own history, but present it to her in such a heartfelt way telling the story of her own work and life.”

        The children in this painting are the artist, herself, at age three and eight and the remaining elders are the artist’s Great-Grandmother (sister in-law to Georgina) and Great Great-Grandmother.  Three generations of family branches depicted in one work of storytelling art.
        Both of these paintings were recently juried into the 15th Sevier County Biennial Juried Art Exhibition which will open on January 7th, 2011 at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, in Gatlinburg.  The Opening Reception and Awards Ceremony, which is open to the public, takes place 6:00-8:00pm on January 7th and the exhibition remains on display until February 26, 2011.

"Revisiting The Homestead-The Kermit Caughran Family" an Original Oil Painting by Kathryn Rutherford
        Also of importance to local history, are Rutherford’s most recent paintings which record the last resident of Cades Cove, Kermit Caughran, his wife and many of their children and grandchildren.  These paintings, depicting the well known bee keeper, strike a note with local residents and tourists alike because many remember the kindly gentleman of the Cove, who passed away in 1997, and the bee boxes that lined his front yard close to the exit of the Cove.
        “With the permission of the Caughran family,” states Rutherford “I painted the first of these paintings to fulfill the wishes of the winner of a fundraiser.  I gave away a portrait to raise money for medical bills for a family friend, five year old Wears Valley resident, Emily Young, who had brain cancer and eventually passed away earlier this year.  The winner of my fundraiser asked to have me paint a Spirit Painting with local history.  This tells you just how cherished and desirable my Spirit Paintings are to those depicted in the works as well as viewers who enjoy the heartfelt stories portrayed.”
        “My only disappointment,” continues Rutherford “is that the Caughran Family and I have yet to meet so I can show them the finished paintings and discuss fund raising plans to help the Cades Cove Preservation Society through the future sale of prints.   We haven’t been able to schedule our time to meet as yet, but it will happen soon.”
        Heirloom Art Studio (865-428-4900) is open 11-5 Monday through Saturday and can be found online at: www.heirloomartstudio.com
        In the “Spirit of the Season”, now is the time to think about family, ancestors and the stories that would make unique fine art.  Stop by the Heirloom Art Studio to discover it’s offerings on the hill and discuss a one of a kind Spirit Painting of your family.  Kathryn can’t wait to begin work on her next masterpiece.