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Photo exhibit to open Sunday at the Nobles County Art Center

Paul Swanson displays two of his favorites in his 20-image exhibit opening Sunday at the Nobles County Arts Center. The exhibit debuts with an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, and will continue through the month of November. (Julie Buntjer/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON — Images of solar panels and wind turbines show the modern technology cropping up on the rural landscape in Paul Swanson’s latest exhibit to grace the walls of the Nobles County Art Center in Worthington. An open house is planned from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the gallery, in the lower level of the War Memorial Building, 407 12th St.

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Swanson, of Worthington, will feature 20 of the images he captured between May and September in half a dozen counties of southwest Minnesota as part of a project focusing on changes in the rural landscape.

The project was the result of a $1,200 grant Swanson applied for and was awarded earlier this year from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council with funds provided through the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. With the grant, he purchased a 70- to 300-millimeter Nikon zoom lens for his Nikon D3100 camera. Swanson said he wanted the lens to get better details in his images and be able to zoom in on features.

With the new lens, Swanson said his goal was to capture the landscapes of southwest Minnesota, comparing and contrasting modern technology with structures of the past.

“It was a little harder than I thought to catch the past and the future,” Swanson said. “I was thinking I could drive by a farm and find the old model tractors and the big modern ones that are out there.”

In reality, he was challenged to find the older model tractors although he had some success in finding old barns and even an old windmill. That image was captured not long before the windmill was torn down, and is one of Swanson’s favorites.

A graduate of Worthington High School, Swanson studied art education at then-Southwest State University in Marshall, where he first picked up a camera.

Compared to his other artistic works, which include drawing, mixed media and oil, acrylic and watercolor painting, Swanson said he likes photography because it “captures the beauty of nature and how God created it.”

“You can’t out-do nature, no matter how hard you try,” he shared.

Since getting his zoom lens, Swanson has focused his photography skills on capturing close-ups of plants and “whatever catches my eye.”

Each of the 20 images displayed in the November art show were framed using barn wood Swanson received from his sister-in-law. Neighbor Gerald McConkey constructed each of the frames showcasing the photographs.

Swanson estimates he took about 1,000 photos before deciding on the 20 to include in the show. In addition to the image of an old windmill, another of his favorites was taken during the Worthington Windsurfing Regatta, and features several sails on Lake Okabena.

In the future, Swanson plans to use his new camera lens to zoom in on wildlife and old barns in southwest Minnesota. Whether or not they will be showcased in a future art show, he isn’t sure.

“I’ll see how this one goes, I guess,” he said. “I just feel like I’m blessed living in southwest Minnesota. I just want to give something back, I guess.”

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at The Farm Bleat

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