Kathryn Rutherford Blog Header

Kathryn Rutherford Blog Header

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.

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