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Michael Bunton: Artist in residence at Kratzsch Conservancy

April 8, 2019  |  Topics: featured artist

Michael Bunton is one of 12 artists participating in a year-long residency program called ARTservancy, a collaboration between Gallery 224 in Port Washington and the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust. Each artist has selected an OWLT preserve to spend time in and to engage with. To read more about the artist in residency program, click here.


Artist statement by Michael Bunton


I approach my property through the lens of my camera. The preserve contains seventy-three acres of woodlands, wetlands and grasslands, with trails running through them. The Milwaukee River runs along one side of it. The property, once farm land, is now a great place to hike.


river at sunrise

“River Sunrise”


I come to the site very early in the morning in order to capture the beauty of the place. Usually, I start down by the river and catch the rising sun. Sometimes I pull out my trusty Nikon F3. But my primary artistic angle is to load up a couple pinhole cameras with paper negatives.


The artist on boardwalk with pinhole camera

The artist with pinhole camera. Photo: Eddee Daniel


With a pinhole camera I am limited to a single shot. I have to judge the amount of available light and make a guess (based on experience) as to the length of the exposure. Sometimes, for variety, I use an old Brownie camera. It may be 100 years old but it still works!


Untitled pinhole camera image

Untitled pinhole camera image


I began making the pinhole photos after taking a pinhole camera workshop at Studio 224 (a collaborative studio space associated with Gallery 224). I was fascinated by the results of the process. I found it them to be more abstract and they have a different feel—which I loved—from other photos. The same is true with the Brownie; it’s such a simple camera, yet it lends the pictures an artistic look. I am not always sure what the results will be but that is part of the fun.


Untitled Brownie camera image of branches over the river

Untitled Brownie camera image


The great thing about this year-long residency is that if something doesn’t work the first time I can re-do it, which I have done several times so far. The darkroom is where the magic happens. I feel fortunate to belong to Gallery 224, which provides me with access to their darkroom. It has also led me to doing this amazing project, for which I am grateful.


It’s fascinating to observe the seasonal transformation of the Kratzsch property since I began this residency.




"River Reflection"

“River Reflection”


"Winter" - pinhole image

“Winter” – pinhole image


"Sunset Light" young trees

“Sunset Light”


"Fallen Tree"

“Fallen Tree”


"Milkweed" seeds



"Look Up," tree branches overhead

“Look Up”







I attended M.A.T.C. in Madison for Photography where I was blessed with great teachers. Before that I attended culinary school at Gateway Tech. After graduation I worked for Sudlow Photography in Danville, Ill., doing college yearbook portraits. 12 schools in 4 months for about 10,000 portraits. I had a stint as a wedding photographer, then worked for a small newspaper in Delavan, WI, shooting event photos. My work has been shown locally at the Cedarburg Cultural Center and Cedarburg Art Museum. When I am not out shooting photography, you can find me working as a Chef at Cardinal Stritch University.





To learn more about Kratzsch Conservancy, click here.


This is the latest in a series of featured artists in The Natural Realm, which is intended to showcase the work of photographers, artists, writers and other creative individuals in our community whose subjects or themes relate in some broad sense to nature, urban nature, people in nature, etc. To see a list of previously featured artists, click here. An exhibit of the work of ARTservancy artists in residence is scheduled to open at Gallery 224 on September 13, 2019.


All images courtesy of the artist, except as noted. Featured image of Michael Bunton on trail at Kratzsch Conservancy is by Eddee Daniel, who is a board member of Preserve Our Parks.