Segil Fine Art Source, October 11-November 8
This story was featured in the October 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art October 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
A cadre of six Southern California artists banded together this past spring for a painting pilgrimage to Canyon de Chelly in Arizona. Their mission: to capture the magnificent canyon and to walk in the footsteps of legendary artist Edgar Payne. Marian Fortunati, Sharon Weaver, Laura Wambsgans, Linda Brown, Nita Harper, and Debra Holladay created works in the canyon for a week, climbing and crawling to find the best locations and views. The trip, they say, exceeded all expectations. This month 50 of the resulting works from the excursion are on view in a show opening October 11 with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. at Segil Fine Art Source.
The spectacular rock formations and striking light effects inspired awe and wonderment in the souls of the artists, Harper says. In one painting displayed in the show, CANYON LIGHTPLAY, she portrays the drama of the light hitting the canyon wall. “The contrast offered by the light lasts such a short time, so I tried to capture that moment in time that made me say, ‘Wow, look at that!’ Canyon de Chelly is a spiritual, ancient place, so just being there is inspiration,” Harper says.
Wambsgans describes Canyon de Chelly as a 1,000-foot gash in the desert floor that features a silver ribbon of life-giving water, a scene that, in part, inspired her paintings. “While painting the canyon, hawks would call and soar on the thermals, and small lizards zipped around the rocks in between push-ups,” Wambsgans says. “And on the canyon floor, sheep grazed—all happening as if time stopped 300 years ago.”
For the artists, the canyon as subject matter was exhilarating and daunting at the same time. But they agreed from day one that they all wanted to return during a different season to experience, for example, the canyon blanketed in snow during the winter. The group of painters now call themselves PAC6 (Painting Across the Country), and plans for future trips are already in the works. —Bonnie Gangelhoff
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