Like many memorable journeys, the destination was not always the focus. Instead, the couple was fortunate to have a large, open space in The Nines, as well as a desire to create something new. The idea to capture ocean images came to light on Luther’s boat. “I wasn’t in the fine art photography world; I am a commercial fisherman. There were more walls to fill in our new space, and we were thinking about what else we could do besides the bottles. Lauren had been coming out fishing with me because she loves the water, and she thought it would be interesting to paint it. I thought I could take photos of the ocean while I’m out there. I get to see the ocean in such different ways, so I took photos to see if she could paint from them,” Luther recalls. “I remember walking in to see her first water painting completed. I thought, ‘This is it.’ I just got this feeling that this was going to work. At that point, all I wanted to do was get more pictures, so I was going out on the worst weather days just to get interesting photos. The water 15 miles off shore is the same liquid, but the environment is so different,” Luther reflects.
“Looking back, we didn’t know at the time, like nobody does in life when you start something new, if it would turn into something successful. It has come so far from that point. We’ve seen people really grabbed by these ocean images. There are some powerful things that happen in here,” Lauren adds.
When visitors began questioning where the images for the water paintings originated, they added Luther’s photos to the gallery, an unexpected and exciting addition. Luther began taking photos at Cornell, but his intention has shifted since. “When I went off to college, I brought a camera. My intention was to capture the zany things that people were doing. Now, I don’t want to just document craziness, I want to share compositions,” Luther notes.
As each evolve with their craft, they inspire one another with their differing qualities that balance each other and heighten their work. “I’ve been looking at the water for 2,000 days at sea. When we look at the paintings, I can see where areas don’t look real or have depth. We dial into these little spots, and it turns from a two-dimensional colored canvas to a three-dimensional seascape,” Luther notes. For Lauren, this helps bring her work to the next level. “He’s the best art critic to help me develop because he understands the water. I want him to tell me these things because I want the paintings to be the best they can be,” Lauren says.
The couple’s mission is about bringing something new to the table that people have not seen before. “I want you to see the beautiful part of what’s happening in the glass, not just a still life of a bottle,” Lauren says. For Luther, it’s about capturing the topography of the ocean that you just can’t grasp from the shore. “I try to think, ‘What can’t people see? What is a cool part about my job, the essence of what I’m doing out there?’” Luther describes. The Nines’ bright, friendly atmosphere is truly unmatched as the community has gotten on board to support Lauren and Luther, often dropping by to bring in their own glass bottles or simply to say hello.
Lauren and Luther’s work creates simultaneous feelings of ease and wonder at the beauty of glass, light, and ocean water. Whether they help you gain a new perspective or conjure up memories of being out on the ocean, The Nines offers evocative pieces that are sure to resonate with any beholder.
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