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In The Open Air 

Redwood Art Association blossoms

In the tradition of the 19th century French impressionists who regularly painted outdoors -- en plein air -- 25 of our local artists will participate in the fourth annual event, "Art in the Garden," a fundraiser for the Redwood Art Association's building fund. The setting is the truly magnificent garden at the home of Lynne and Bob Wells at 2331 Graham Road in Bayside. "Gardens" would be a more accurate description of this sprawling complex of enchanting vistas, paths and "rooms" created by the Wellses with loving care and ingratiating whimsy over a 20-year period.

During those same years the Wells contributed their acting talents to dozens of local theater productions and were recently recipients of Dell'Arte's Lifetime Achievement Award. "We love having the gardens to ourselves, but also like sharing them with others. It is always a delight to have people come here and enjoy the experience," said Lynn.

Beginning at noon on Sunday, Aug. 7, artists will be painting throughout the garden and offering works for sale. "Music, wine, sweets and savories will be part of the festivities, and a raffle with great gifts of art, wine, and gardening items," said Linda Wise, one of RAA's many coordinators.

Roy Grieshaber, president of RAA, spoke enthusiastically. "This event perfectly fulfills our organization's vision of combining art as an important part of life and culture with a convivial venue that reaches out to the Humboldt community," he said. "I get to see people I've not seen all year, and what an enlightening experience it is to actually watch an artist execute a painting."

For a small donation guests will have an opportunity to paint their own miniature plein air paintings with the guidance of Maureen McGarry.

The introduction of oil paints in tubes in the 1870s made it possible for artists to work outside with newfound freedom. Artists, in turn, urged paint manufacturers and colorists to use their new knowledge in chemistry to create a broader spectrum of color pigments that could better represent the elusive hues and effects that these artists were becoming aware of, almost for the first time in Western art. Highly portable easels with telescopic legs, built-in paint boxes and palettes that could fold down to the size of a briefcase soon followed. A large white umbrella was often staked next to the easel to create an even, diffused light on the painting, and to help the artist better discern colors and values. To this day, artists are smitten by this experience of trying to capture the ever-changing colors and light "in the open air."

Each year, Robert Haynes, Ed.D, has given a short talk on some aspect of en plein air painting. This year the subject will be light. The talk, "The Effect of Light in Plein Air Painting," will focus on the work of Claude Monet, an important advocate of this way of working and a fierce pioneer in systematically chronicling the vast range of light and atmospheric color in nature. Following the 1 p.m. talk, award-winning artist Jim McVicker will give a painting demonstration.

Along with McVicker, featured artists include: Mary Louise Anderson, Paula Anderson, Regina Case, John Crater, Judy Evenson, Nancy Flemming, Karen Chase Frazee, Michael Hayes, Mary Henry, John Jameton, Claudia Lima, Georgia Long, Kathy O'Leary, Theresa Oats, Barbara Pulliam, Cheryl Rau, Camille Regli, Stock Schlueter, Patricia Sennott, Heather Shelton, Mori Schultz, Muriel Spencer, Sara Starr and Alicia Tredway, who incidentally will be a featured artist at the new Jack Swell Gallery in the month of August. Stellar roster, stellar day. See you there!

Tickets are $20, $15 in advance. For information about where to buy tickets with maps to the garden, see the Redwood Art Association's ad in this issue or go to the RAA website:

RAA is also in the news with the announcement of its new (temporary) venue at 603 F St. This elegant building, diagonally across from the Morris Graves Museum, will easily accommodate the large exhibits planned for the next few months, starting with the 53rd Annual Summer Exhibition running until Aug. 19. All RAA members have been invited to show their work. A public reception is planned for Saturday, Aug. 6, from 6 to 9 p.m. during Arts Alive!

Immediately following that show the gallery will host the Humboldt Photography Exhibit, a collaboration with the Eureka Photoshop Users Group and the Redwood Camera Club running Aug. 24 to Sept. 16. This is a judged exhibit, with awards, open to all photographers in Humboldt County -- entry day is Aug. 20. Again, check the RAA website for details. Look for more on this show and RAA's judged Fall Exhibit in the September Muse.

From the Morris Graves Museum to the waterfront, F Street is becoming a distinctive art corridor with the arrival of RAA's new space, Swanlund's F Street Foto Gallery (527 F St.), sculptures placed strategically along the way, and the big, bright Sewell Gallery at 423 F Street. So let's get on the Beat and check out more of August's Arts Alive!

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R.W. Evans

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