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From camera to canvas

Hamilton, Ohio – The CFG & the Family album release party at the Fitton Center May 19 packed the house.

Anyone left without a ticket, though, still got a good look at the show thanks to Diana Halligan.

The local music photographer – you’ll see her in front of the stage at Riversedge in Hamilton all summer, among other venues – is more than a veteran behind the lens. She also paints with distinction.

In fact, she has a piece on display in the 51st Hamilton Current Exhibition running at the Fitton Center through July 5.

Maybe not surprisingly, her work in the Hamilton Current features a musician.

Halligan’s oil painting Johnny Fink Hittin’ the Note hangs on the second floor, just outside the Bever North Gallery. It depicts Fink – who will be inducted into the Northern Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in June – head tilted back, awash in the music he’s wringing out of the golden guitar in his hands.

“All these people in Hamilton have known me as a photographer,” she said. “For all the people to see my painting now, that’s awesome.” A native of the U.K., Halligan came to the United States 37 years ago when her husband transferred for his job with General Electric. She was a registered nurse by day, but did photography for her kids’ extracurriculars like swim team and marching band. She also studied at the Art Academy of Cincinnati.

While her painting doesn’t copy her photography, the camera influences the canvas.

“I recently saw the Georgia O’Keefe photography exhibition at the Cincinnati Art Museum,” Halligan said. “She was using photography to explore composition for her painting. I don’t paint copies of my photos; I use them to inspire the paintings.

“If you want a portrait that looks like a photograph, take a picture. Oils are fun to work with. They have texture. If you make a mistake, you scrape it away and paint over it. The hands are a challenge for any artist. I’m especially proud of the hands in that one.”

Halligan first connected with Casey Gomez – namesake for CFG & the Family – when he played with the Magic Lightning Boys. She was at Powder Keg Harley Davidson in Mason photographing motorcycles one afternoon when she heard the music and drifted over.

“With Casey there’s so much energy,” she said. “He’s so dynamic on stage. He said he always liked having a photographer who wasn’t afraid to come up to the front of the stage and get it.

“Johnny, he’s such an entertainer and a great musician. He saw some of my work online and contacted me. That’s how we got together.”

Johnny Fink Hittin’ the Note appeared in the Strauss Gallery on High Street earlier this year during the Women’s Art Club of Hamilton’s dual exhibition – New Views - there and at the Fitton Center. Halligan had a painting of a saxophone player in the Fitton portion the show.

Enjoy some of Halligan’s photos from the May 19 CFG & the Family show below. Enjoy Johnny Fink Hittin’ the Note and the rest of the Hamilton Current exhibition from 10 to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays through July 5. Galleries at the Fitton Center are always free and open to the public.

Like what you see? Add the sounds to the photos and painting when Fink (playing with the Gina & Johnny Band) opens for CFG & the Family Saturday, July 22, at Riversedge.

The Fitton Center for Creative Arts is located at 101 S. Monument Avenue on the Riverfront in downtown Hamilton, Ohio.

Building Community Excellence through the Arts and Culture

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