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Former Students, All Professional Photographers, To Honor Walter Rabetz with Exhibit 

The show has been 50 years in the making. 

In the mid-1970s Walter Rabetz, head of the Visual Arts Department, was going about his job, teaching students at Loomis Chaffee. Not only teaching, but inspiring, capturing students’ imagination, leaving a lasting impression just like a photograph leaves a lasting image.  

One of those former students, Keith Raphael ’74, approached the school last year about an exhibit that would honor Walter’s influence and celebrate the journeys of students from the Classes of 1974 and 1975 who went on to careers in professional photography. 

The exhibit, “50 Years of Photography: An Historic Group Photography Exhibit dedicated to Walter Rabetz,” runs from May 16 to June 9 in the Sue and Eugene Mercy Jr. Gallery with an opening event on May 16 at 6:30 p.m. The exhibiting photographers are Bruce Hamilton ’74, Peter Kagan ’75, Just Loomis ’75, Ted Morrison ’75, Keith, and John Sutton ’74.  

Keith hopes that people take from the exhibit “the impact that a teacher can have on a student for the rest of their lives. Also, an appreciation for the 50-year journey of the artists.” 

Keith also said the “most amazing” aspect might be that so many professional photographers came out of a two-year period at the same high school, calling that “a testament to the education at Loomis Chaffee.” 

Walter started working at Loomis in 1970 and spent 37 years as head of the department. He also was the director of the Mercy Gallery from its opening in 1995 until he retired from teaching in 2007. Walter died in 2019. His wife Marilyn, an art teacher, worked at the school from 1970 to 2007. She directed the Visiting Artist Program and the Richmond Art Center. 

The exhibiting photographers are Bruce Hamilton ’74, Peter Kagan ’75, Just Loomis ’75, Ted Morrison ’75, Keith, and John Sutton ’74. Each has made his mark in the world of professional photography, and it all started 50 years ago with Walter Rabetz as a guiding force. 

A promo for the show lists a few of the accomplishments of the six artists whose work will be exhibited. Just’s cover art for A-ha’s album Hunting High and Low was nominated for a Grammy Award. Peter directed the music video “Notorious” by Duran Duran as well as many well-known advertisements. Ted has photographed ad campaigns for Chanel, Tiffany, and other high-profile clients that have appeared in many publications, including The New York Times and Time magazine. Bruce recently retired as the media center manager and senior lecturer at Northeastern University’s College of Arts, Media and Design. John’s clients include The Four Seasons, Netflix, and Sephora, which sought him out for his acumen as an architectural and interior photographer. Keith’s digital fine art photo-graphics have an avid following in 114 countries. 

Keith said he would describe his photography journey as a lifelong learning experience. 

“I never imagined that I would study fine art painting at the Sorbonne in Paris, which taught me to recognize flow, movement, texture, and color in my work just as the great painters did,” Keith said. “I never imagined that by being a banker and using Fibonnaci mathematics in my trading, the knowledge would bleed into the balance and ratios of the canvas of my images. I never imagined that I would move from analog photography and from darkroom production to the digital age and the limitless opportunities to abstract the photographs that I have taken in the last 15 years. The evolution has been a lifelong experience.” 

And if Walter were there to see this exhibit, what would he say? 

“Well, Walter was very proud of being a teacher, and would be ecstatic and honored to be recognized in such a unique event,” Keith said. “He would probably say to each of us in one way or another, ‘I knew you could do it. I knew that if you followed your heart, you would achieve great work.’"   

Walter Rabetz impacted the lives of many students in his time on the Island. 



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