Lewes photographer Futcher captures Downstate life

Artist/photographer JuneRose Futcher, of Lewes, with some of her work now on display at the House of Coffi on Loockerman Street in Dover.

LEWES — JuneRose Futcher was raised in an active sailing lifestyle on the Delaware Bay and is a member of a family with professional mariners dating back many generations.

As a young girl, she was not only encouraged and trained to be a sailor, she was encouraged to make artwork about sailboats and seascapes.

“I was raised in the progressive Cape Henlopen School District in Sussex County in well-funded and visionary arts education,” the Lewes resident said. “As a young sailor in an active sailing family, I was always photographing, painting sailboats, ships and seascapes. I was blessed with open-minded teachers who let me express my imagination and observations.”

With an abiding love for sailing and a mastery of the sport that has endured all her life, an opportunity to study communications and photography was presented to Ms. Futcher as an adult student.

With years of dreaming to study photography and writing and producing books, education in visual arts theory, film and digital photography was a welcome challenge and created a new sense of purpose.

“My arts education was intensive and my studies at Delaware Tech meant many months of devotion and commitment to learning and mastery of photography and technology,” Ms. Futcher said.

Ms. Futcher’s creative imagination, coupled with her sailing as a youth and into her adult life in marine environments, helped her develop into becoming a successful artist.

Ms. Futcher, who is now a professional artist and photographer, recently received grant funding from the Delaware Division of the Arts to produce six new pieces for an exhibit at the House of Coffi on Loockerman Street in downtown Dover.

This exhibit is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on DelawareScene.com.

“I am elated and blessed to be rewarded the opportunity grant by the Delaware Division of the Arts,” Ms. Futcher said. “The process requires many hours, contemplation, visualization and consideration in a body of work that involves a presentation. The investment by my home state in my artistic endeavors is a statement about my style, presentation and mission as an artist.

“The exhibit has been produced for some time and I installed the photographs earlier in November. With the pandemic circumstances depressing small business retail, we plan to keep the exhibit to mid-January at House of Coffi.”

Kristin Stonesifer, the owner of the House of Coffi, is excited about the exhibit.

“Times are difficult and we are ensuring our guests are safe while being fulfilled by the most amazing photographs on display,” Ms. Stonesifer said.

JuneRose Futcher shot this picture of a pumpkin in the early morning surf for a college project on motion.

Ms. Futcher said the grant application process requires a description of a project with many features, concepts and a budget outline.

“This grant program requires five artistic pieces,” Ms. Futcher said. “I submitted five photographs of many in my signature portfolio. The grant is judged on artistic merit, investment and achievements. This is my third Delaware and U.S. arts relief grant based on these qualifications.”

“The grant award at this obvious challenging crisis in the coronavirus pandemic pulled me back from a period of doubt and disrupted purpose. These grants are considered valuable credentials and raise my profile in the community. The exhibit production gave me a renewed sense of purpose as a professional. I am feeling a lot more optimism for 2021 as we stabilize in the arts.”

The US CARES Artist Relief Grants Act was a timely financial lift that required credentials and was judged on an essay about suspended programs and financial need. With a new camera, she is photographing in her signature style of marine environments, storm events, and documenting pandemic culture.

“I was purposeful about a dynamic representation of both counties with a departure from being entirely about maritime and sailing,” Ms. Futcher said. “I aimed to show a variety and dimension in this exhibit. With the House of Coffi as a Dover business in Kent County, four photographs in the county are represented.

“One deeply personal to me is ‘Never Forget; about the Delaware Law Enforcement Memorial where our grandfather Charles W. Futcher of Lewes PD died in the line of duty in 1939. Our Charles is inscribed among a total of Delaware’s fallen officers.

“And by complete contrast, the second original and very different photograph are Splashing Pumpkin about the playful gourd. I made a game of toss in the low-tide shallows of the Delaware Bay in Sussex County.”

Ms. Futcher’s primary style in photographic arts is the impressions of the maritime; competition sailing, marine transportation, storm events and environmental abstractions and tidal waterways.

“Also, I have grown my body of work in ceremonial law enforcement and community event photography. There’s always a random but creative moment or scene for variety.”

Black and white photography is one of the favorite forms of art for JuneRose Futcher, of Lewes.

She said her inspiration is sparked in many different ways.

“I keep an art notebook and write many ideas, concepts and programs,” Ms. Futcher said.

“I make lists, enumerating steps and naming photographs. While I am in the waiting and hoping zone, I am thinking about the prospect of production and installation.”

Ms. Futcher said every little detail matters once an idea is solidified.

“Many features of framing are involved and with a budget outline, I am efficient in running prints, ordering custom mats and buying frames,” Ms. Futcher said.

“I assemble and finish the frames in my home studio in an intermediate method between a custom framing gallery and a factory production.

“I average about five hours per photograph from the moment of the grant process to the installation of each framed photograph. The act of taking photographs of course can be a mere, spontaneous moment in fresh light or an epic day of many hours in a frigid wind storm.”

Many publications have accepted her work as a compensated professional, she has won many community awards and continues to serve as an art donor for charity. Two notable achievements were comprehensive essays for the state of Delaware’s environmental quarterly, Outdoor Delaware.

Ms. Futcher said it was an emotional evaluation process on choosing the perfect pieces for the exhibit.

“With many award-winning and professionally published photographs, among frequent sales, the decision to curate or select photographs is involved and often time-consuming,” Ms. Futcher said. “I wanted to show a range in color, texture, motion, and moment with a varied theme of subjects that represents both Kent and Sussex counties. Added emotional value for depth and meaning as a lifelong artist raised in Delaware completes the exhibit.”

Ms. Futcher is also a state and federal arts advocate and a board-appointed Delaware representative for Teaching Artists of the Mid-Atlantic. She continues to be thrilled and humble about being a Delaware Division of the Arts Grant recipient in 2013 and 2020.

“To represent my home state and be supported in telling my story as a home-grown Delaware artist is a dream come true,” Ms. Futcher said.

“The state of Delaware is investing in one of their own in the arts. I am thankful to the agency and General Assembly for ensuring that grant funding is meant for the working artist.”

Arshon Howard is a freelance writer living in Dover.