Photographer's big dream comes true


July 19, 1999|By Lisa Breslin | Lisa Breslin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WHEN IT COMES to prints, Phil Grout, a Finksburg fine arts photographer, thinks big, 15 times larger than the typical 8-inch-by-10-inch photo, to be exact.

Grout recently made his first mammoth print in his new photo lab, studio and gallery, Catchfly, named after magenta wildflowers that blanket the area around the converted warehouse. The 30-inch-by-40-inch print, "One Sick Cow," was soon shipped to Cliff Larsen, president and chief executive officer of Vydas Resources Inc., a care management company based in Montana.

And it was then that Grout realized he could stop pinching himself; his dream of pushing his already famous light etchings, or as Grout calls them "photoglyphs," to a mammoth size and selling them had come true.

In a marvelous wash of color, "One Sick Cow" is a silhouette of a cowboy searching through a small herd for a sick cow. Larsen has also ordered an older negative in which Grout captured a horseback rider and wagon cutting across a Carroll County ridge at sundown.

"Phil Grout's work characterizes the strength of the Western U.S. in an abstract format," said Larsen. "It offers an unusual form of dimension, and I am a great fan of his work."

Larsen is not alone. Grout's photoglyphs of cowboys, horses and maritime images have been exhibited in galleries and praised across the country -- from New York to San Antonio, from Idaho to Westminster.

Each photoglyph is made from a single, high-contrast black-and-white negative. Grout applies chemicals to the photographic paper to create an array of colorful backgrounds, often in amber tones, and silhouettes.

His prints are so large that he had to get Hampstead sheet metal specialist Ed Martin of Martin's Sheet Metal Inc. to make five stainless steel developing trays to accommodate them.

Grout is quick to credit other Carroll countians who helped him establish Catchfly.

Grout uses a restored Omega 4-inch-by-5-inch enlarger to make his large photoglyphs. Noted Westminster photographer Robert Porterfield gave him a negative carrier from an enlarger that he had bought from the late John Byers, onetime Westminster postmaster and a well-known photographer.

For now, Catchfly is primarily the place where Grout can experiment with big prints and etchings. By the Christmas season, Grout expects Catchfly to include an art gallery for exhibitions of his work and the work of guest artists.

"Catchfly will also be the home to the `Buck Jones Center for the Creatively Challenged' -- where artists will gather to share their work, ideas and friendship, and actors and musicians will find a home for small, intimate performances," Grout said.

The Buck Jones Center for the Creatively Challenged? It should be noted that Buck Jones is a discarded, plastic, life-size deer that was once a target for bow hunters. Buck is still "frozen in the headlights" near Catchfly.

Information: 410-848-9306.

`Peter Pan' helps nonprofits

Shepherd's Staff and the Montessori School of Westminster received almost $4,000 from a July 7 benefit performance of Theatre on the Hill's "Peter Pan."

"The show was delightful, and we're thankful for the opportunity to benefit from a charity performance," said Kathy Brown, executive director of Shepherd's Staff. "It took a community effort to make the benefit successful. Students from the Carroll County Career and Technology Center created treasure bags, local businesses donated coupons, and the bags were a big hit with the children who attended."

Shepherd's Staff is a Christian outreach and support center on Carroll Street in Westminster. The Montessori School of Westminster serves pupils in preschool through sixth-grade.

"The Montessori School of Westminster has always appreciated Theatre on the Hill not only for its talented people and wonderful productions, but also for the help they have given us throughout the years," said Nancy Title, the school's headmistress.

"We are beginning a middle school this fall, a seventh grade, which will be called The Middle School of Westminster, and the money raised from Theatre on the Hill will go for that middle school. So, we are extremely thankful, both now and in the past," Title said.

Lisa Breslin's Central neighborhood column appears each Monday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

Pub Date: 7/19/99

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