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'Pictures And Passages' In Bethel: Inspired Scenes By Sandy Hook Residents Find Summer Home In Local Church



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BETHEL - More than 125 photographs taken by Chane and Rhonda Cullens are on exhibit at Walnut Hill Community Church through September 17.

The public is welcome to attend an artists's reception on Sunday, July 23. The reception will run from 12:30 until 2 pm, and light refreshments will be served.

The collection offers a wide variety of subjects taken both in the couple's hometown of Sandy Hook, as well as on the journeys they have taken across the country and around the world. Each photo in the exhibition, called "Pictures and Passages," has been paired with an inspirational verse from the Bible, which has been printed and posted beside the photos.

More than a third of the photos might look very familiar to Sandy Hook and Newtown residents. Included in the exhibit are some iconic photos of Newtown from Castle Hill, Fairfield Hills, Holcombe Hill, the Lower Paugussett State Forest, Newtown Village Cemetery, Sandy Hook Center, Church Hill Road, and some Main Street classics of Newtown General Store, Ram Pasture, and The Pleasance, to name a few.

Animal lovers will not be disappointed with this exhibit. On display are photographs of a wide variety of birds, lions, sheep, gorillas, and squirrels, as well as a cheetah, tiger, deer, and kitty.

Horse lovers will want to make sure they visit the church's café too. At the center of the back wall is a 30-by-40-inch aluminum photo taken by Mr Cullens of his niece's Friesian horse, titled "Blowing in the Wind." Some might recognize it and some of the other horse photos from the walls of a local Newtown restaurant as well.

Outside of Connecticut, there are featured photos taken in Bar Harbor, Maine, Block Island, R.I, New York City, Yosemite National Park, Zion National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and locations in California, Oregon, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Texas.

For the world travelers, some of the other photos were taken in Canada, Ireland, Italy, Malta, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.

Last fall, Mrs Cullens was asked if some of her photos could be used on the social media page of Walnut Hill Community Church to accompany verses that were going to be posted. That inspired her to start posting a daily photo with a Bible quotation on her own social media page as well.

Many of the photos in "Pictures and Passages" have already been featured in her daily posts. She has heard from many of her friends and social media followers that they look forward to starting their day by seeing the photos with the inspirational messages on them.

Chane and Rhonda Cullens both share a passion for photography and enjoy the adventure of capturing the world together.

Rhonda received her first camera when she was 7 years old and followed her father and grandfather's love of photography. She took photography classes in high school and at Oregon State University where she met her future husband.

While they were dating, Chane bought his first camera, which was the first auto-focus SRL Canon camera made, a Canon EOS 650.

The couple continued capturing the events in their married life with Canon cameras, including all of the activities of their two sons. Both boys were very active in sports growing up, so Chane and Rhonda found themselves becoming known as the "sports photographers" for their soccer, track, lacrosse, etc, teams.

Now that their sons have graduated, the Cullenses' photography has expanded to other areas, including more travel and competition photography. Both are very involved board members of Flagpole Photographers Camera Club based in Newtown and have given presentations to groups on photography.

Mrs Cullens was recently chosen as a Master Member of New England Camera Club Council, and one of Mr Cullens's photos of Newtown was presented to the governor of Connecticut by a delegation from Newtown.

They have both won many awards for their photos in various competitions, including having photos selected this year for the Connecticut Association of Photographers 100 TOPS in Connecticut competition.

To view additional photos of theirs, visit ccullens.com.

The photographs on view in Bethel this summer are available for purchase, with or without verses printed on the photos themselves. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the ongoing ministries of Walnut Hill Community Church.

Information about purchasing images is available at Walnut Hill Community Church. The collection can also be viewed, and purchased online at ccullens.com/whcc. Arrangements will be made for photo pickup.

The public is invited to view the exhibit at 156 Walnut Hill Road Mondays through Thursdays, between 9 am and 5 pm; Fridays between 9 am and 3 pm, and Sundays between 8 am and 1 pm. If it is not during a regular service time, those visiting are asked to check in at the front reception desk.

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"After Dark" by Rhonda Cullens, one of more than 125 photographs by Mrs Cullens and her husband Chance that are on view this summer at Walnut Hill Community Church in Bethel. (Rhonda Cullens photo)
"Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse," by Rhonda Cullens.
Very familiar scenes of their hometown are included in the exhibition of photographs by Rhonda and Chane Cullens, including this one, "Icons of Newtown." (Chane Cullens photo)
"Blowing in The Wind" is an aluminum photo by Chane Cullens of his niece's favorite Fresian horse. (Chane Cullens photo)
The exhibition "Pictures and Passages," on view until mid-September at Walnut Hill Community Church, offers viewers dozens of images by Sandy Hook residents Rhonda and Chane Cullens. The church has public viewing hours daily, and will also host an artists' reception on Sunday, July 23. (photo courtesy Rhonda and Chane Cullens)
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