Growing up on a family farm in Vandalia, Alan Stoutz learned to appreciate outdoor structures, such as old barns. However, it wasn't until 1974 that he was able to capture them.
That was the year he bought his first camera, and it changed his life. Stoutz had a passion for the art from the beginning, studying the likes of famous photographers such as Ansel Adams, taking photography classes and studying on his own.
On Sunday, Stoutz was the featured artist at the reception for Capital Arts newest exhibit, "Art by Men, for Men, about Men." The exhibit features the works of 22 men and will continue until March 23.
The exhibit featured dozens of Stoutz's photographs, including barns, bridges and railroads. Several were of Stoutz' favorite subject, the state Capitol. He appreciates the architecture, and has photographed the building during different seasons, times and from different angles.
He said he advocates "the advancement of photography as a fine art. Because it is a fine art. And it wasn't accepted early on as an art form."
While most photographers have moved to digital darkrooms, Stoutz still works in traditional darkrooms. He's never processed photos with popular programs such as Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom, although he does use the 14-megapixel camera on his cell phone to take many photos these days.
"It's just a wonderful way of life," he said. "I always say photography's my passion."
Another featured artist Sunday was Brandon Smith. The Southern Boone County resident has appreciated mobiles for years, but only started making them himself about four years ago.
That's when his daughter gave him a piece of wood, challenging him to make something with it. He cleaned it up, attached it to a hook, hung it and spun it around.
Mobiles are handmade free-floating sculptures that hang in a balance.
Since then, he's branched out to bigger mobiles (one is so big it's stationed outside Capital Arts) and mobiles made of different items: bamboo, driftwood and rocks. He also uses leaves and feathers — light items that move with the slightest breeze.
"What I like is the balance (of them)," he said.
He also likes the sound. Mobiles are similar in appearance to wind chimes, but along with their natural components come natural sounds — much more subtle than chimes and, to Smith, more pleasing to the ear.
Smith encouraged Capital Arts patrons to touch his mobiles to see the movement and sound for themselves.
"I offer a warranty," he said. "If you drop it and break it and you can't get it back together again, bring it out to my studio and I'll fix it for you."