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SLO Down Pub to host show for El Camino Art Association

'Here it Comes' is a watercolor by Jean Neas, a Paso Robles resident.
'Here it Comes' is a watercolor by Jean Neas, a Paso Robles resident. The Tribune

The El Camino Art Association doesn’t have a regular gallery to show members’ art, but the venue for the current show is giving everyone some exposure through the end of the year.

Since the SLO Down Pub opened in Arroyo Grande four years ago, it has always shown local art in its spacious environs.

“Before we opened, it was an art gallery, Carried Away Art,” said Mark London, who owns the pub with his wife Julie. “It was kind of a shame to shut the art gallery down,” he said, so they continued to serve as a venue, showing a lot of the El Camino Art Association folks.

The owners were eager to hold something special for the association and its school scholarship fund, said association President Franczeska Bobi Angel, so the first of what is hoped to be an annual all-member show opened in November for the group’s 50th anniversary.

The exhibit features about 60 paintings, revealing a range of talent and skill, from professionals to amateurs. Of the 34 artists, only four men are taking part. Watercolor is the main medium, followed by oil and acrylics, with some pastels, ink, mixed media and collage.

Association member Lorinda Bridge did a Chagall-style painting that was auctioned off for the scholarship fund.

Bridge said her style is always changing. “My tendency is to go from a lot more realistic to a lot more impressionist, depending on the way I feel,” she said.

One of her exhibited paintings, “Musicians,” features an accordion player she did from a photo she took of a large group of street musicians when she and her husband were traveling in Buenos Aires. “I don’t paint people too often,” she said.

Previously a real estate agent, Bridge’s attention was always being diverted. “I spent more time looking at art in people’s houses,” she said, so she took an adult ed class in art in Santa Barbara in the late 1980s.

Bridge and her husband have lived in Alaska the last five years, and are just living in Arroyo Grande until spring.

Another artist whose work stands out is Jean Neas. The Paso Robles resident studied art education in Iowa where she grew up, finished her degree at the University of Nebraska, then in 1980 moved to Montana.

“I didn’t start watercolor until we got there,” Neas said, adding that the previous states didn’t seem interested in watercolors. “In Montana, they thought it was pretty cool.”

After a 15-year hiatus while raising her kids, Neas started painting again in the mid-90s, shortly before moving to California. She paints with a North County group led by John Barnard every week and often shows in the Paso Robles Art Association exhibits.

“Over the years I’ve gone from pretty tight and realistic into ex pressionism and impressionism,” said Neas. “I’m a colorist; that’s my favorite thing.”

Reach freelance writer Lee Sutter at sutterlee@hotmail.com.

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