DAVE PETERSEN EXHIBIT
until February 24
February 2 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
In order to catch the scene at the right time, Petersen, often accompanied by his son Paul, also a painter and photographer, sometimes endures harsh conditions and waits for the just right moment. The pair often camp out and take a compass with them to determine where the sun will be in the morning. Early Boy Scout training comes in handy.
A quarter of the works in the exhibit depict scenes in the western United States, where the scenery is decidedly different from that in Virginia. Art works depict tranquil places out west such as the Grand Canyon, Snowmass Wilderness Area, the San Juan Mountains in Colorado, Yosemite, and Bryce Canyon.
The upcoming show features both oil paintings and photography in equal numbers, and half of the photographs are in black and white. Petersen has been compared to Ansel Adams, although the techniques used are different, as digital photography has changed the way artists work. Petersen’s photographs are often printed on stretch canvas. Another influence is Richard Schmid, the impressionist or realist, depending upon whom you ask, known for his paintings of the west and the Hudson River Valley.
Dave Petersen took art and technical drawing classes at Andrew Lewis High School and private painting lessons from Heinz Huber. He attended Virginia Western Community College and Madison College (now James Madison University), where he stayed on for a master’s degree, not in painting or photography, but in ceramics. He loved wheel-thrown pottery but decided not to pursue a career in ceramics, in part because the expensive gas-fired kilns available in college are not usually accessible to the individual artist. Instead, Petersen taught himself photography. Three years of technical drawing still influence his work, but he likes to loosen up when painting and leave the viewers to find their own paths.
Petersen taught high school art for twenty years and was an assistant principal in Blacksburg. At first he used photography only to capture subjects for his paintings, but Mike Kaylor at Blacksburg High School, who taught photography, inspired him to think of photography as an art form in itself. After retirement and the forced isolation necessitated by COVID, Petersen has found more time to pursue his art, more “growing time” as he puts it, or time to reevaluate where to go next. Half of his studio is relegated to photography and the other half to painting, so he seems to be going both directions.
“You can learn a lot about people by what they photograph” Petersen said, So, Dave Petersen must be a tranquil man.