By Will BowenThe next best thing to spending 80 days in a hot air balloon circumnavigating the globe might be spending 80 minutes contemplating 80 paintings of destinations around the world.
While the former may not be too probable, the latter is a definite possibility.
Beginning Jan. 5, and continuing to Jan. 31, at The Lobby Art Gallery at The Poway Center for the Arts, 15490 Espola Road, the paintings of world traveler Cherry Sweig will provide a colorful virtual tour of some of the greatest sites on Earth.
Sweig, a 1974 graduate of The Bishops School, has been working furiously to complete the 80 paintings for the show.
This is not the first time Sweig has painted in a fury. Once she painted 101 pictures in 101 days. Seven at a time were delivered each Saturday to the Chula Vista Nature Center, where they were sold by the gift shop, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Nature Center.
Each of Sweig’s 80 world paintings are based on a sketch or photograph of a place she visited in her many travels. About 55 of the paintings will be in oil, and the remaining 35 in watercolor. Sweig likes to paint in a bright and vibrant French impressionist style, with a plein-aire tinge. What’s unique about her work is her simple, brightly colorful, upbeat approach with a Walt Disney-animation overtone.
Sweig grew up in cold Wisconsin. At age 13, her parents enrolled her in The Bishops School, which had a boarding facility at the time. Their reason? Bishops was an excellent school, steeped in their Episcopalian faith, and they planned on moving out to La Jolla. While Sweig did not like to be sent away from her family, she now sees that it made her a very independent person.
After graduating from Bishops, Sweig went on to earn a BFA in graphic design from San Diego State University. After college, she went through several different careers, including designing video games for Sega and working on Internet advertising for Time Magazine in an office at the Union Tribune building in Mission Valley. For 15 years, she did Gyotaku art, a Japanese technique where a real fish is pressed to paper to make a print.
Sweig says she is forever in debt to her mentor, Dr. Otto Mower, now 93, who taught art history at Bishops. Sweig said Mower inspired her with a passion for both art and travel — especially the desire to spend time in an artist’s shoes. For instance, Mower took Sweig and other students to Italy to paint in Michelangelo’s actual lunchroom, where some of his original sketches still remain on the walls.
Another of Sweig’s memorable experiences was being the rare person able to paint in Monet’s Garden in Giverny, France, after hours, when everyone had gone home. Since it was summer, she was able to paint in solitude, contemplating Monet’s experiences, until 10 or so at night, when the sun finally set.
— Gallery Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday;
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday
— Reception: Noon to
2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15
— Contact: (858) 748-9494
— Web: cherrysweig.com; powaycenter.com