As I step out of the car in front of Butler Steltemeier’s 1880’s home on the outskirts of Leiper’s Fork, I’m greeted - not so warmly - by a phalanx of critters of many stripes. I’m immediately calmed somewhat by the chain link fence that they’re behind and I’m in front of, and I’m good as long as I stay where I am. In my most manly voice, I call for Butler to please help me. She pops her head out the front door, gives me that look and assures me they’re not going to eat me and to come on in. So, past the two large dogs, a white goose, and several cats I go and enter the home/studio/menagerie that this big-hearted lady has made hers. Through the wide parlor and to the back of the house into the studio. All around me are the signs of what drives this southern fireball - animals, family, and faith. Every painting I see, whether finished or in progress - portrays in a loving, sometimes whimsical fashion an animal or two. Dogs, horses, sheep - particularly sheep of late - painted in a way that makes you wish you had as much room for them - around your place as well as in your heart - as Butler does. As I begin to shoot, I’m joined by many of the furry family members. They’re actually pretty well behaved and respect Mommie, even the black mother hen, so they mostly sit still for their portrait. So, today’s challenge is to identify in this photograph which animals are real and which are simply painted.
From the artist: “I just can’t drive by an animal that looks like it’s lost or needs somebody...”