“To photograph is to confer importance.” — Susan Sontag, author of “On Photography.”

Nature photographs by Richard Curtin take on importance in two ways. His images are displayed at Northeast Alabama Surgical Associations at McClellan Park Medical Mall; they reflect not only flora and fauna in their best light, but the serenity of nature has a calming effect on those who view the photos.

“The patients see them and want to know more about them,” said Coretta Pearson, office manager. “They have their favorites, especially the sunset scenes and beachscapes.”

Dr. Curtin has volunteered to teach a basic nature photography class starting Aug. 17 for Cheaha Creative Arts students.

Any student in Calhoun County, ages 13 years and older, may sign up with CCA and take the class.

It will be taught twice a month through May 2018. The classroom time will be 5:30-7:30 p.m. on a Thursday, and field study will be from 6:30-9:30 a.m. on a Saturday. The cost is $20 per month.

The program is attempting to obtain funding for basic digital camera equipment. There will be cameras available for student use, but participants are encouraged to bring their own adjustable digital cameras when possible.

Any camera can take an expressive photograph, Curtin said. Novices must be willing to take the time to learn the technique. “An expressive photograph is one that elicits emotion or appreciation of what’s happening in the setting,” he said.

For more information on the photography class, call Rose Munford of Cheaha Creative Arts at 256-473-7707, or email Curtin at racurtin@hotmail.com.

Birds are Curtin’s primary interest, but photographs of outdoor places such as a church in San Antonio, N.M., mountains and waterfalls line the walls of the office’s corridors.     

Curtin is a practicing general surgeon in Anniston. Born in Washington, D.C., he has maintained an interest in photography since early childhood.

During high school, he was the photographer for his school newspaper, using a Graflex 4x5-inch Speed Graphic camera. He has progressed through smaller film cameras to digital photography.

Curtin has been recognized in local and national photo competitions, including the waterfowl winner of the Ducks Unlimited Photo Contest.  His photos have been published in Ducks Unlimited Magazine and Outdoor Alabama. A sample of his photos can be seen at the website www.shoresideimages.com.

August exhibit at Oxford Performing Arts Center gallery

“Artistic Treasures” by Sandy Sparks is the newest exhibit at the Martin-Lett Gallery at Oxford Performing Arts Center.

Different viewers find different treasures at art exhibits, but perhaps the prize treasure in this exhibit are the portraits of Oxford Arts Council founders Norma Martin and Bobbie Lett.

It is a valuable treasure because it is a reminder of the beginnings of OPAC.

The Oxford Arts Council was founded in 1981 and was the main ingredient in the later establishment of OPAC.

“It was Norma’s idea to form the arts council,” said Jane Batey of the Oxford Arts Council. “Bobbie served as its first president, while Norma served as treasurer. They were strong community leaders who wanted the best for Oxford citizens.”

Sparks painted portraits of the two women from photographs provided by their families, she explained. “I wish I could have known them,” she said. “Mrs. Lett was my husband Ralph’s English teacher. He and his brother grew up in Oxford and remember these ladies well.”

Asked about the challenges of creating portraits, Sparks, who is from Madison, Ga., answered that capturing a person’s spirit and life is the hardest. “And the eyes,” she added. “The eyes are the pathway to the soul, and this expression must be communicated.”

Portraits are her passion, but Sparks works in many different media. Her artworks on display include charcoals, watercolors, graphite, etchings, carving, wood burning and acrylics.

The exhibit continues through Aug. 31, and everyone is invited.

Hervey Folsom writes about the local arts scene every Sunday. Contact her at herveyfolsom@yahoo.com.