Golden Light of the Golden State: Plein air exhibit brings ‘Impressions of California: Land & Sea’ to La Jolla Library

Showing the diversity of our beloved Golden State, the La Jolla Library’s upcoming “Fresh Paint” exhibit takes viewers from the Redwood Forest to the So-Cal waters. It is on display in the Library’s Community Room, but an opening reception is set for 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15 at the library, 7555 Draper Ave. The art exhibit will remain in place through Jan. 20, 2018.

The sixth annual “Fresh Paint” show, themed “Impressions of California: Land & Sea,” features 37 paintings from 14 artists: John Cosby, Gil Dillenger, Mark Fehlman, Catherine Grawin, Robin Hall, Calvin Liang, Eric Merrell, Rita Pacheco, Joe Paquet, Randall Sexton, Bryan Mark Taylor, Charles Waldman, Toni Williams and Jeff Yeomans.

“These plein air artists have the mission of depicting California, which becomes a bit like a historical record. When you think about it, early California plein air artists at the turn of the century gave us a record of how California once looked: The Irvine Ranch (community) doesn’t look like a ranch anymore and Orange County, which used to be all orange groves, doesn’t look like it did then either.

“These new works are not only beautiful paintings that reveal what California looks like today, but they could be of value to posterity later on,” said Patricia Jasper Clark, director of La Jolla Library Arts and Events

The “Fresh Paint” exhibit, which is the flagship show and sale for the library art program, features landscapes that depict San Francisco skylines, northern California forests, La Jolla seascapes and more. And the artists are just as diverse.

“This is the one show a year that we cull from the whole state,” Jasper Clark said. “In other shows, we try to reach out to local emerging artists, but for this one, we wanted the crème de la crème of landscape painters from up and down California. We are very fortunate to have the quality of work that we do.”

Three works that depict the variety found in the Fresh Paint exhibit, themed ‘Impressions of California: Land & Sea.’
Three works that depict the variety found in the Fresh Paint exhibit, themed ‘Impressions of California: Land & Sea.’ (Ashley Mackin)

One of the artists, Toni Williams, has participated in each of the “Fresh Paint” shows and painted the piece that became the poster for the event.

“It’s a La Jolla landscape,” she explained. “It was done near the Scripps Pier in the late afternoon. The late light was hitting the eucalyptus trees.” In addition to the excitement for creating the poster art, Williams said she is thrilled to be sharing company with the other artists.

“The artists participating are very well known and prestigious. There is a lot to be said for them,” she said. “It’s always a beautiful show, but there is a real variety of work this year.”

Artist Mark Fehlman is exhibiting for the fourth year. “It’s going to be a fabulous show,” he said. “It’s all about the beauty of our California environment. It’s all about an artist’s view of California and capturing that Southern California light.”

One of the pieces Fehlman submitted might be a familiar sight to some – Boomer Beach in the early morning.

“I’ve painted it lots of times. But this time, I feel like I captured the morning light, which is very different because it creates lots of shadows on the beach. I played with the shadows created by the cliffs. But it was a beautiful morning. A lot of people like to walk that way along the water and I tried to capture that special time of day.”

He added, “In general, through plein air painting, you are trying to capture the special quality of that moment in time. In La Jolla especially, you get so many types of light depending on time of year, time of day, whether the marine layer has come in, etc. So what I try to do with my work is capture that moment in time you cannot capture with a camera and give the viewer a glimpse of that moment.”

The “Fresh Paint” exhibit is one of four shows the Art Committee produces annually. Jasper Clark said the others are a photography, contemporary art and still-life exhibit. Interspersed with those are other one-off shows.

“The art program at this library really has evolved and started under (former branch manager) Catharine Greene because we had this wonderful space she wanted to elevate to better serve our patrons,” she said.

“We formed a small art committee and have worked to produce quality shows ever since. We are all volunteers and we don’t have a big budget, but we try to put on a nice reception for each show. We do what we can to get it done and it’s a labor of love.

“We hope the community becomes increasingly aware that we have these shows and they will be encouraged to stop by the library to see what’s on display, because they will not be disappointed. We have raised the bar.”

She added the committee welcomes feedback from patrons. The exhibit is free and open to the public during library hours: 12:30-5 p.m. Sunday; 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday; 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, at 7555 Draper Ave. (858) 552-1657.