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Magistrate taking on new career as artist

June 03, 2000|By DAVE McMILLION

RANSON, W.Va. - As far as Jefferson County Magistrate Katherine Santucci is concerned, her defeat in last month's primary election was fate.

"I'm a firm believer that life gives you a big kick in the pants and sends you off in a different direction. There's a big purpose in that," she said.

Santucci said she had thought about not seeking a third term as magistrate, but her friends talked her into running again, saying she had done a good job.

Santucci was defeated in a five-way Democratic primary race for the county's three magistrate seats.

Santucci said she feels relieved she lost because it has allowed her to focus on her career as an artist, which she has always considered her main interest.

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Her new career in painting is already off to a strong start.

Santucci was informed a month ago that two of her works have been selected to be exhibited in the 68th Annual Cumberland Valley Artists Exhibition which begins today at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown.

Another painting of Santucci's is being shown at an exhibit in Harrisburg, Pa.

Santucci has been painting for 25 years, but in recent years she was unable to devote as much time to it as she wanted.

When Santucci moved to Charles Town 15 years ago, she realized selling art work in a town where she was unknown would be difficult. She started a bed and breakfast as a way to earn a living but injured her back, which kept her from running the inn as well as from painting.

In 1992, she decided to run for magistrate. She was elected to a four-year term, and was re-elected in 1996.

Magistrates are not allowed to have a second business while in office unless they get permission from the county Circuit Court where they serve and the state Supreme Court, Santucci said.

Santucci used her time in office to generate a collection of her works. She has completed about 25 paintings of outdoor scenes in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and scenes from her family's farm near Jones Spring in Berkeley County.

When she steps down as magistrate at the end of the year, Santucci plans to begin selling her art work and developing a Web site from which she plans to sell other types of art.

Her paintings of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park include familiar buildings and scenes in the lower town area. She likes to make her paintings as lifelike as possible, so the viewer can envision walking up the steps in the buildings she paints.

"I like detail," Santucci said.

Santucci said she has received a lot of positive feedback on her Harpers Ferry paintings, which does not surprise her. She said out-of-state tourists are increasingly attracted to the historical area.

"I do a lot of paintings of Harpers Ferry because they are very popular. People can't seem to get enough of Harpers Ferry," she said.

Her miniature acrylic paintings range in price from $200 to $400, and her large paintings range from $600 to $3,500.

In addition to the exhibits in Hagerstown and Harrisburg, Santucci's works are on exhibit in Charles Town City Hall. The "Art in the Hall" exhibit is designed to promote artists in the Charles Town area.

Santucci paints at her husband's sign shop on Mildred Street in Ranson as well as at her home in Charles Town.

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