I have had a longstanding interest in art, but have never had any formal training. In high school, when faced with choosing between being a struggling artist (with an electronics hobby), or a more financially secure electrical engineer (with an art hobby), I chose the latter path.
After earning a Navy scholarship to pay for college, I graduated with distinction from Cornell with an engineering degree. Commissioned as a naval officer, I interviewed with Admiral Rickover for duty in nuclear submarines, but instead ended up on his small engineering staff in Washington. Thirty-four years later, I still serve in that small agency that is both part of the Navy (Dept of Defense), and the National Nuclear Security Agency (Dept of Energy), as a senior executive.
I became interested in submarine portraits after attending a commissioning ceremony for a new nuclear submarine in the 1980s, and privately deciding that its portrait could have been done better. This gallery features the commissioning portraits of various US Navy Trident strategic missile submarines which were built while I was responsible for their reactor controls and electrical systems. These portraits incorporate the visual preferences and requests of the original Commanding Officer(s), such that there is a “back story” for each one. I also rode the initial Sea Trials (first dive, first time at full power) for each of the Trident SSBNs I rendered. The USS OHIO portrait reflects its post-conversion configuration as a guided cruise missile submarine (now SSGN 726).
The original portraits are most often still onboard the submarine, typically in or near the Officer’s Wardroom (dining room). Artpix prints of these portraits hang in various Navy buildings in Washington DC, state governor’s offices, submarine squadron offices, the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, the Kesselring Site, and reactor controls equipment vendor facilities.
Following the completion of the Trident shipbuilding program, I have rendered portraits of the distinguished emeritus Directors of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. The originals hang in the Navy’s nuclear power school in Charleston, SC, with Artpix prints hanging outside the Director’s office in the Naval Reactors headquarters building.
"All of Mr. Kurth's images are available for purchase as Giclee reproductions. For most of these portraits, two image sizes are available: small (11 x 14) and large (roughly 19 x 24), priced at $40 and $60 respectively. For anyone who served on, or directly supported, any of these submarines - augmenting your order to Artpix Studio with some form of documentation proof of your service will earn discount pricing for that sub's portrait. Arrangements can also be made for having your sub portrait signed by the artist."