The paintings in The Big Water Media show glitter like jewels, each set off by individual lights in the Vina Robles Gallery. Larry Schuster’s luminous steel, stone, glass and wood sculptures placed in the ample room, with its high ceiling and large windows, add to the ambiance.
The Central Coast Watercolor Society opened this juried show to all artists, not just members, although most of the award winners are county residents.
The president of the National Watercolor Society, M.E. Mike Bailey judged the event.
“There was a lot of great art,” he said from his Santa Cruz home. “My hope was to make a show that was diverse.” As Bailey himself works in various styles, from traditional land and seascapes to stylized figures to abstracts, his selections and awards reflected his own diversity. “I tried to weld all aspects,” he said.
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In his statement, Bailey noted he sought evidence of imagination and courage to display the artists’ reactions to the world around them, selecting work that was clearly distinct and unusual. “Design trumps subject matter in all of my choices.”
For Best of Show, he picked Sally Tippman’s “Music Makers,” a quartet of musicians who fill the canvas. The award may have been music to Tippman’s ears, but she wasn’t around later for comment, having taken the money and run off to Paris with husband Gunther. Her award was $400.
A Central Coast resident since 1977, Tippman grew up in California, studied art at Otis and Chouinard art institutes in Los Angeles, in Arizona and Mexico City, then worked, studied and painted in New York City. Best known for her figurative work, the Atascadero resident can be found at Studios on the Park in Paso Robles.
Another former Chouinard student, Page Graeber of Paso Robles, took the $300 First Place award for “Ancient Ones.” The subject of this work is gnarled and twisted bristlecone pines, thought to reach an age beyond any living thing. The images reach toward the sky like whirling dervishes. Graeber visited them where they grow south of Bishop.
Pat Cairn's impressionistic “Rocks and Stream” earned Second Place and $200. Although it is water media, the Paso Robles resident added a fabric scrap to emulate foam in the creek. Marguerite Costigan of San Luis Obispo captured an expanse of a national park in Utah. Her “Storm Over the East Rim, Zion” took Third Place for $100.
Another landscape, “Dreamspot,” featuring a tree in a field with soft hills in the background by July Lyon of Cambria, was an Honorable Mention. Also earning Honorable Mention were an abstract by Linda Hendler of Pismo Beach, “With This Ring,” and Fresno resident Marilyn Torchin’s “At A Retreat in Sedona” that smacks of the Southwest with its color palette and abstracted images.
Like the media that binds the group — water — the society has been floating around for a few years after breaking free of the San Luis Obispo Art Center. They’ve found a location where the show can remain for three entire months. That’s not only a pleasure for the artists but also gives locals and visitors a chance to see the local talent.