Dee Leggett has always enjoyed taking photographs, but these days, she tries to use her craft to serve a higher purpose.
“I’ve been a photographer for probably 20 years, but it’s really only been in about the past five or six that I’ve gotten interested in photography as a means for communicating the importance of nature and how, the more we see it, the more we understand and the more we appreciate it,” said Leggett.
Leggett and her husband moved to their 10-acre property in Great Falls in 1979, and Leggett said her admiration for their spectacular natural surroundings has grown with each passing year.
“As I became more environmentally aware and responsible, I started to see more of the beauty of the world around me, and as people saw my photographs they sort of had the same reaction,” she said.
Once Leggett realized that her photographs were having a positive impact, she made it her mission to capture images that would inspire others to be more environmentally conscious. To help bring nature to her doorstep, Leggett planted flowers in her garden which are particularly attractive to local butterflies and birds.
“Butterflies are a real interest of mine,” said Leggett. “I don’t have the equipment or the patience for birds, but I do for butterflies so I have some really nice shots of about a half a dozen different species.”
Since Leggett works full-time she said most of her photography is “catch as catch can.
“I try to take my camera with me everywhere I go,” she said.
BEGINNING THIS WEEK, Leggett’s photographs will be on display at the Great Falls Community Library as part of the dual-artist Great Falls Studios exhibit “Perceptions of Nature.” The nature paintings of fellow Great Falls Studios member and McLean resident Linda Jones will make up the second half of the two-month exhibit.
Established in 2003 by local potter and long-time resident Laura Nichols, Great Falls Studios is a consortium of local artists dedicated to establishing Great Falls as a center for the visual arts in Northern Virginia, and to promoting the work of its 60-plus members. Dee Leggett joined the organization in November 2005 after attending a local exhibit at the Great Falls RE/MAX Gateway Office Gallery.
“I attended and got to meet some people and I looked at some of the artwork that was there, and I thought, I need to be a part of this group,” said Leggett.
Linda Jones joined Great Falls Studios exactly one year ago, and is already a member of the committee responsible for organizing sales and exhibits. Jones said she knew about the existence of Great Falls Studios for some time but was hesitant to join because she thought her 22102 zip code precluded her doing so, since the group requires its members to either live or work in Great Falls. However, Great Falls Studios welcomed Jones with open arms as she lives on the border of McLean and Great Falls and frequently paints in Difficult Run.
“It’s a tremendous organization,” said Jones. “It’s very supportive, and very much trying to get art to be an important part of the community – and not just showing art but increasing the awareness of art in the community as a whole.”
JONES HAS BEEN painting her whole life but only began to sell and display her work after becoming an empty-nester six years ago. Jones said her daughter inspired her to take courses at the Corcoran McLean Project for the Arts.
“I’ve taken a little bit from each of my instructors at the Corcoran McLean Project for the Arts and created my own style,” said Jones. “I predominantly paint realistically, but sometimes I get up in the morning and think I’m going to paint realistically, and sometimes I get up in the morning and think I’m going to paint abstractly — it makes things more interesting and varied.”
The upcoming show at the Great Falls Library will contain Jones’ works in a variety of media, including acrylics, watercolor, pastels, oils and mixed media. Jones’ paintings have been in juried shows in Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C. She is a member of Garrett Arts, showing at The Gallery in Oakland, Md., and formerly of the Spectrum Gallery in Washington, D.C. Her work has also been shown at the Ramp Gallery at the McLean Project for the Arts, at the Galerie Europa in Reston, at The Art Group in Mt. Jackson, at various locations as a member of Great Falls Studios and in private shows in Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. In addition to being a member of Great Falls Studios, Jones is also a member of the McLean-based PulseArtists. Her paintings are also in private and corporate collections in America, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Given that they already share the theme of nature in their work, Jones and Leggett felt that it made sense to share an exhibit at the Great Falls Library.
“We figured that rather than have one month each, we would put up our work together for two months,” said Jones.