Main & Signature Galleries: Alameda en Plein Air
Alameda Looking at Herself
by Karen Braun Malpas
The lovely city of Alameda is once again revered in her annual Plein Air Paintout, an event in which 40 artists from all over spend a
week recording her many and apparent assets. This year the happy quandary exists of which of too many excellent artists
and which of too many interesting themes to focus on.
Locals who already love Alameda as well as visitors who come to experience a town like Alameda will all be rewarded by the interesting range of pictures featuring the multi-colored Victorian houses, the bobbing hulls and clanking rigging in the harbors and yacht clubs. They will enjoy the pleasure of recognition when they see the row of lollipop palm trees across from Crown Beach or the shoreline walkways beside expanses of beach. They will recognize Dans Produce in its various renditions and thrill to the magnificence of the bougainvillea vine beside Spritzers cafe.
While faded silk delicacy is the forte of some of the images, the ones that carry across a room are the ones with strong light and dark contrast (known as chiaroscuro ). Interestingly, the process of the watercolor artist requires them to leave the original white of their paper untouched for the whitest white of their picture while building successive layers of pigment to create the colorful volumetric forms. Barbara Tapps clean,crisp “Take me for a Ride” illustrates this preservation and use of white.
In contrast, the oil painters characteristically apply highlights last, on top of the darks. Small negative areas where the sky shows through dark trees in Karen Winslows ”Crown Beach”. illustrate this.
A love of perception (looking at stuff) and transcription (painting it) permeates this show. One of Justin Pastores’ pieces is a big page with 16 little thumbnail sketches on it as if his voracious visual appetite recognized there was so much to paint but so little time in which to do it, he’d have to scale down in order to address all the interesting subject matter, striking compositions and stirring colors statements.
That’s why artists love Alameda.
This show is up August 11- Sept. 30.
The Gallery is open Thursday - Sunday 11-5, closed Mon,, Tues., Wed.
Frank Bette Center for the Arts, 1601 Paru st @ Lincoln,