THEY CAME,THEY SAW, THEY
by Karen Braun Malpas
Visitors to Alameda
often call it "pretty as a picture." That's what 46 artists thought as
they recently spread throughout the sidewalks, open spaces and
parking lots of our town to record its unique and lovely aspects.
A hardy breed of
outdoor artist, these Plein Air painters eschew the artificial light
of the studio to place themselves in the plain air where they are
challenged by all the vagaries of environment...temperature, wind,
sun, passersby etc. Here, they enter into a loving, ferocious dialogue
with light...moving,quivering,sweeping,reflecting...expressive light.
After a week of
painting, their works are on exhibit at the Frank Bette Center from
August 10-September 29.
This is not a
roomful of paintings all blue sky at the top and green grass at the
bottom! The view-points represented are as varied as the personalities
involved. That is, what they looked at, how they perceived it and how
it was rendered.
Take palm trees for
example. To a Midwesterner whose eyes are accustomed to the comforting
fulsomeness of a tree line of hardwood oaks or elms, a row of palm
trees is nearly freakish...goofy palm is to tree as bizarre flamingo
is to bird.
In this exhibit, Debbie
the gawky whimsy of 5 "Palm Notes" placed simply, in their engaging
weirdness, against a delicate sky. Sandra
her interpretation of "Grand Harbor Palms" a nearly belligerent
quality by means of her big, aggressive, brush-strokey handling of
them. In Sibyl
of "Crab Cove", the row of 10 palm trees in the distance is used
merely as a landmark, a reference point, a way of indicating the
furthest plane in space but, it's not the subject of the painting.
Sometimes at the
request of a local business but sometimes just because the tableau was
so visual, many familiar places were immortalized in paint this month.
To cite a few:
a portrait of the "Frank Bette Center" in all its warm,open-armed
golden-ness as well as the "Oakland Skyline" presented as a
busy,flourishing port, rife with commerce and industry.
Sergio Lopez and Suzanne
D'Arcy all saw
charm in the "High St. Station." It was the charm of shapes and
colors. Many years ago, as local lore has it, that same spot was said
to be a house of ill-repute where a different kind of charm was the
"Julies" teashop on Park seem nearly European in its enchanting
the hotspot to be on a hot day, by Nancy
Seamons Crookston, "Dans Melons" by Dana
Phillips in case
you missed the farmers market this week, the distinctive Art-deco
facade of the "Alameda Theater" by Rolando
Barrero and the
imposing sobriety of the "Courthouse" bySamantha McNally.
Plein Air painters
are sometimes called painters of light. To understand what that means,
look at the work of Markus
Lui and experience
the bell-like clarity of the highest highlight or a searing pure white
strategically placed or the untouched/preserved white of the surface
(paper or canvas) around which layers of color are built. It is the
intelligent and deft use of the full value range as expressed in
color. It is structural as well as emotional. It establishes a sense
of time and place by implication because where there is intense light,
there are also dark,delicious shadows...yin-yang...how could it be