The deer, it seemed, were everywhere. They were where you might expect them to be: in the woods and on the ski slopes of Indianhead Mountain in the "Big Snow Country" of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. But they also often ventured into town, sometimes invading back yards to munch on the summer blooms or leave telltale tracks in the snow in winter.
"It was amazing to watch. They were almost tame," said Jane Wertanen, 69, of Port Richey, a former art teacher who started taking photographs when she resided, for a time, in the place where her husband, Alvin, grew up.
Then she took to her easel to paint what she had seen.
The result: an oil painting called Resilience that is hanging at the Progress Energy Art Galley in New Port Richey. It's part of an exhibit called "On and Off the Beaten Path," featuring the works of about 20 area artists through Jan. 26.
"It's meant to take the viewer on a journey through the artist's eyes," said gallery director Nancy Ciesla, pointing out a photograph of a simple beach gate taken in Volusia County by New Port Richey resident Bette MacDonald called Gate to Wilbur-by-the-Sea.
"Unless you've been there you'd have never seen that gate," Ciesla said. "This exhibit is taking people to a place they've never been."
Indeed, the works at the modest gallery take a visitor from the waters off Key West to the tenement rooftops in Brooklyn, a German cemetery and a hospital garden in Arles, France.
The latter was painted Tampa impressionist-realist Terry Klaaren, who followed in the strokes of Vincent Van Gogh, who painted that garden twice during his stays in 1888 and 1889 after he cut off his left ear.
Adding to the historical aspect is Hudson resident Carol Spicuglia's muted painting of a long-gone Dutch coastal village in Brooklyn that she created for her husband from an old family photograph. It's part of an ode to New York, flanked by a photograph of a busy Times Square and an eye-catching rendition of the Manhattan skyline painted by Fred Mannarino of Spring Hill.
"I'm a romantic at heart," Mannarino said, explaining how he melded the experiences of two very different places — Manhattan and Miami — into one painting. The retired commercial artist grew up in Brooklyn but spent years traveling in the Navy during the Korean War. He drew upon a memory of a long-ago evening spent watching the moon rise over Miami from an aircraft carrier moored offshore. Two years ago he decided to recapture that mood on canvas by painting Manhattan. "I just wanted to give a feeling for the city at dusk, at twilight, where the light is just starting to flicker on the water," he said.
New York City with a tropical twist — as seen through the artist's eyes.
Now journey on.