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Karen M. Peluso began snapping pictures with her first Kodak camera at the age of 10. She loved writing, as well.'
The culmination of Peluso's focus on the Lowcountry, Visual Poetry: Beaufort and Beyond, will be on exhibit beginning Monday through June 23 at the Beaufort Art Association Gallery at 1001 Bay St. The opening reception is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday.'
Peluso, who serves on the hanging and publicity committees for the BAA, was invited by the association to be the featured artist.'
The exhibit also will include the works of 90 other exhibiting members. Admission is free.'
Peluso developed her love of black and white photography early. "I was so favorably influenced by the black and white photos my father took and printed before he switched to color when the whole world did in the 1950s," Peluso said. "In high school I had my first taste of darkroom work, and I was hooked."'
Today, the 58-year-old Peluso has her own darkroom in her studio downstairs of her Ribaut Road home, which overlooks the bluff of the Beaufort River. And following in her father's footsteps, she has begun to hand-paint pictures just like he did in 1941.'
After attending a lecture at the Palm Beach Photographic Centre in Delray Beach, Fla., she began learning how to hand-color some of her black and white photographs with oil paints. The hand-coloring is a challenge to Peluso. "My hand-colored art form satisfied my inner artist," she said. '
She starts with a matte finish photo, which gives "teeth" to the surface and allows the color to adhere to it. She uses a cotton pad, cotton swab, skewer-wrapped in pieces of cotton balls, and oil pencils to color her photographs.'
"I reserve the hand-coloring for certain images that I've printed especially for it," Peluso said, who is also a Photography Club of Beaufort member. '
"I simply prefer (black and white) in photography, though I love color in my wardrobe and home. I never wear black and white unless I can coordinate hot pink or red or lime green with it."'
The ease and control when creating the black-and-white prints herself is another reason for her preference. "There was so much more involved to develop color images -- total darkness and precise, critical control of water and chemical temperature is required," Peluso said. "Though I keep to a strict 68 degrees (the ideal for color printing), black and white printing is forgiving if I'm off by a degree or less. Not so with color."'
Some of her signed limited edition giclées and hand-colored works will be on exhibit.'
Curves are a common theme in the compositions of Peluso's work. "I am subconsciously drawn to those kinds of things," Peluso said of the curves found in each of her photographs.'
Subject matters are frequently rural scenes, hay bales, porches, architectural vignettes, laundry blowing in the breeze, driftwood on the beach, garden statues, cottages and seaside roadways, which seem to have their own stories.'
Her North Georgia hay bales picture won the Stevenson Memorial Award in the Beaufort Art Association's 2006 Spring Art Exhibit.'
Among the 100 photos in Peluso's Beaufort Art Association exhibit are some pictures taken on Daufuskie Island that will be printed in Sallie Ann Robinson's next "Gullah Home Cooking the Daufuskie Way" cookbook, which will include home remedies.'
Growing up in northern New Jersey, Peluso earned a Bachelor of Arts in fine arts education in 1971 from Montclair State College. During the many years she worked as a medical office manager in New Jersey, Peluso took night courses in photography as she expanded her work. Her prints have won numerous awards.'
Most recently, she has won awards for her poetry writing. A collection of poems about her family, "The Mother-Face in the Mirror," written over the last 15 years, won the University of South Carolina 2006 S.C. Poetry Initiative Chapbook Contest. A photo that she took, "Perpetual Meditation," will be on the cover.'
Inside the carriage house of the waterfront Ribaut Road home she shares with author and husband Clinton B. Campbell, is the "The Writer's Wall." Established in 1992, the wall features pictures of authors taken by Peluso, including former President Carter, The Associated Press White House correspondent Helen Thomas and science-fiction author Ray Bradbury. Some of the authors have used Peluso's pictures on their bookcovers. '
The Ocean City, N.J., couple discovered Beaufort while visiting friends who had moved to Sun City. They lived on Fripp Island for two years and now live just 1 mile from the Beaufort Art Association Gallery. The couple has five children and 10 grandchildren.'
"I keep working at it because I'm sure I haven't done my best work yet," said Peluso.