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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Pete Hutchins

Bart's Place, Coal Run, Ohio, Pete Hutchins. My wife and
I used to live in Coal Run, just up around the corner from
this scene during the first five years I taught.
I supposed there's hardly anyone with Internet access who hasn't, at least once, "Googled" their own name to see what shows up. I must confess, I do so every few months, whenever I feel the need to feel humble. You have any idea how many Jim Lanes there are out there? Once I've realigned my artist's ego, I sometimes type in the name of people I know. Today, I entered the name of a former student, just to see what "popped up." I was pleasantly surprised to find that the young man whom I'd taught for only one year in 1973, (my rookie year as a high school art instructor) had done quite well for himself. Having been his art teacher only during his senior year in high school, I can't reasonably take much credit for his success. In fact, I really have no way of knowing how successful he's become, except for the evidence provided through the quality of his art. As his watercolor, Bart's Place, Coal Run, Ohio (top), would attest, he has a pretty good handle on that most difficult painting medium.
Pete has changed somewhat in the past forty-three years.
(Haven't we all !)
You might say I "inherited" Pete Hutchins. The art instructor I replaced had alerted me to "keep an eye" on his best student, whom he'd nurtured for the past two or three years into a very adept young artist. At the same time he advised me to "keep the pressure on" inasmuch as his seventeen-year-old prodigy had a tendency to "loaf." It wasn't easy but I did. Pete was born in 1955, raised in Beverly, (southeastern) Ohio, and went on to graduate with a B.F.A. from the Columbus College of Art and Design a few years later. He found a job as a graphic designer in Atlanta, Georgia, where he still resides. From that point on, except for a few updates from his mother (who attended our church), I pretty much lost track of him.

Head on a Post, 2008, Pete Hutchins
Pete Hutchins is probably the only academically trained professional artist I ever produced--if you can call teaching him virtually everything I knew about art at the time in just one year, as falling under the definition of "producing." Quite frankly, though I remember him well, I don't recall much at all about what I taught him in class. (It's probable he doesn't either.) I do recall learning as much about teaching from my students that year as what I may have taught them. It was the 1972-73 school year. I earned the princely sum of $7,800. And, fortunately for me, if not for Pete and my other students, I had a very wise, understanding, and patient principal whose frequent classroom visits I dreaded intensely.

Ferry Hill, Beverly Ohio, 2015, Pete Hutchins.
Pete Hutchins is not famous. He's a modestly successful, working, freelance artist who sometimes paints on the side. He's adept, if not exactly exciting. I think what makes his work appealing to me is that he's not forgotten his roots, returning to his hometown from time to time and painting locales I recognize instantly. The steeply sloping, snow-covered Ferry Hill (above) from 2015, depicts Ferry Street, the treacherous thoroughfare where Pete used to live, (the second house on the left about halfway up the hill). And yes, it was (and is) every bit as bad in winter as it looks. Closed for the Season (below), also listed on Pete's Facebook page as dating from 2015, depicts one of several "truck farm" vegetable stands along the Muskingum River road south of Beverly, Ohio.

Closed for the Season, 2015, Pete Hutchins.
Pete's watercolor scenes are pure Southeastern Ohio. You can almost smell the lingering aroma of the late-summer Sweet Corn Festival which originated from the Witten Farm, visible above in the background. Pete has painted one of our "winters without much snow" which we're starting to become accustomed to in recent years here in the southern part of the state, especially along the rich bottom land which produces our veggie produce. Though he's long been a resident of Georgia, such memories are a part of who he is as an artist.

I'm not sure why (having been there myself), but Pete seems
to have a similar love of the tropical jungle heat and humidity of Costa Rica as he does for his native Ohio.
Meanwhile, back in the "Peach State,"
King Jesus Church, Griffin, Georgia,
2008, Pete Hutchins.


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