A Winning Perspective

Madison photographer takes
overall prize in river art contest

The contest’s goal was to
highlight the importance of bridge

By Lela Jane Bradshaw
Contributing Writer

(December 2010) – When artist Theresa Strohl left her beloved West Coast “kicking and screaming” and moved to southern Indiana, she became determined to teach herself to see her new environment in a more positive light. During her first years living in the Midwest, she explains that “a lot of my photography was about getting to know the area.”
And despite her reluctance, “I did end up falling in love with the place. It is outstanding.”

Theresa Strohl

Photo by Lela Bradshaw

Theresa Strohl has made a living
with her camera since moving to
southern Indiana from her native
California. Her photo (below) of
the Milton-Madison Bridge in the
fog won a recent bridge art contest.

Strohl bridge pic

As part of her project to change her perspective on her surroundings, Strohl makes a point of going out on gray, gloomy days and challenging herself to find something beautiful. She describes photography as “learning to see – learning to be exciting about what you are seeing.”
“Each of my pictures describes a moment in time that stopped me, filed me with wonder, took my breath away,” she says in her artist statement.
Strohl’s ability to find unique visions of beauty in her adopted hometown of Madison was rewarded Oct. 28 when her photo was chosen by judges as the winning entry in the Bridging the River Art Contest. The contest was sponsored by the Madison Main Street Program and the Artisans Gallery as a way to get artists involved in promoting Madison and the bridge. River Valley Financial contributed $150 in prize money, and Artisan’s Gallery owner Bob Maile created the plaques presented to the winners in four categories.
Other winners included Larry Rudolech, painting/drawing, Eric Phagan, sculpture, and Barbara Dixon Walters for poetry/writing. The contest attracted more than 40 entries from Madison and surrounding areas, with the winners chosen by a popular vote from visitors to the Artisan’s Gallery. While many different works attracted a strong following from viewers, Maile notes that Strohl’s piece, “was actually a run away winner” when it came to counting votes for the overall prize.
The winning shot came from a series of pictures Strohl took on a kayaking trip on the river. She began her journey early one morning and “shot the whole time.” She vividly recalls the fog rising up saying it was “just a beautiful day.” Her shot under the bridge gave her a unique angle rarely experienced even by those who see the bridge every day. Contest co-organizer Bob Saueressig describes appeal of the picture highlighting “the simplicity of the colors” together with the “ripples in the water, the reflection, the blue sky – just a beautiful photograph.” He finds the overall effect of the shot to be “a very dramatic and peaceful looking photo combination.”
While Strohl laughs that the winning picture was not her favorite of the ones she took that day, she acknowledges that “it’s the one that most people have commented on. It spoke to more people.”
She finds that part of the fun of displaying her work is “watching people respond to one print over another.”
While Strohl’s appreciates the quiet, personal time she spends shooting landscape and nature pictures, she also enjoys the interactions with people that result from those photos. When she sets up work for sale, she always tries to have some small pieces that are affordable to people just beginning their art collections. “I try to make them accessible. I’ve even had kids come buy them.”
She enjoys the conversations that her pictures tend to spark. “I get to hear so many stories about people’s lives. I love that part, too.”
Strohl spent years as a potter and sculptor, and believes that this background works to make her photography even stronger. “I can still see some of the sculpture influence in the photography,” she reflects.
Maile explains that “her composition is just really good. It seems that she is just in the right place at the right time.”
So while this California girl may not have dreamed of living on an Indiana river as a child, photography lovers will certainly agree that she wound up in the right place after all.

• Theresa Strohl’s photography can be seen at the Artisans Gallery, 325 E. Main St., Madison. Strohl also sets up at the indoor Madison Farmers’ Market, located in the former Kernen’s Hardware Store, 303 W. Main St., from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Back to December 2010 Articles.



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