Trenton Lutes was a senior art student at Hartwick College with concentrations in painting, glassblowing and sculpture when he borrowed an SLR camera from a friend and took a few photography courses. “I’d already met all my graduation requirements, so it was more curiosity than anything,” he says.
That curiosity has developed into a real talent and a keen eye and Lutes, as a professional photographer, has captured some beautiful and iconic images of the Chautauqua area and beyond. His works have been shown in galleries and exhibitions in New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Lutes lived in Westfield until the fourth grade and moved to New York’s Mohawk Valley to complete his schooling. He has lived in several different areas including North Carolina, Hawaii and Atlanta, but in 2006 he returned to Westfield. The aesthetics of the area inspire him as an artist. “I like the idea of being near the Lake Erie shoreline and close to Chautauqua Lake. The water settings are great,” he says. “I also like the fact that there are four fully-developed seasons. The fall colors are definitely an inspiration.” Drawing on that inspiration, Lutes has recently completed an autumn series of photos taken at Allegheny State Park.
His photography method involves a self-termed “planned spontaneity”. He heads out to photograph with an idea of what he’d like to capture, but is always open to images he hadn’t expected. His study of different media in art school has impacted his photos in several ways, with glass blowing and sculpture influences apparent in his popular Glass and Wood series. “The drift wood and beach glass images are really popular in the Westfield area,” Lutes says. “My other work seems to register more in other places. I think it has something to do with the fact that we’re just more familiar with beach glass and drift wood images in this area.”
Lutes says he was surprised by the number of artists in the Chautauqua area when he returned in 2006 and by the quality of their work. “I had no idea that the community was so well-developed and so organized.”
Lutes is a frequent exhibitor at Art in the Park, during the Westfield Farmers Market as well as Westfield’s First Fridays. “The Farmers Market has definitely been helpful in terms of getting out there and getting my work seen. I’ve been able to develop a pretty extensive mailing list, too.”
While photography is his current focus, Lutes says in time he intends to fix up his studio space and get back into painting. “But photography is something I’ll always do,” he says.
His Westfield photography studio is part of the North Shore Arts Alliance’s Open Studio Tour, which will take place May 23rd and 24th. The Open Studio Tour includes nineteen Chautauqua Art Trail artists who will open their studios and allow visitors the opportunity to see where and how they work. Other Westfield artists include Nancy Houghton Nixon and Audrey Kay Dowling. More information and a map of the artist’s studios on the tour can be found at www.chautauquaarttrail.com. Examples of Lutes’ work and upcoming show schedule can be found at www.toastedwafflestudios.com.
Sara F. Herrmann is a freelance writer and editor of www.westfieldny.com. She lives in Westfield with her husband Alan.