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Plein Air Painting Returns To Hood River

Opening night sets for Sept. 1

The Columbia Center for the Arts, in Hood River, announces its second annual plein-air painting and writing event, Pacific Northwest Plein Air 2006: Painting Outdoors from the Mountains to the Sea.

The event begins on Aug. 24 with a five-day painting competition and write-out, in five artistically inspiring locations throughout the Gorge. At least 40 artists from the Gorge and other communities throughout the Northwest, and approximately 20 prominent Gorge writers, are expected to participate in the event.

Award winning plein-air painter and instructor, Susan Diehl, from Arizona, will jury the paintings. Winning paintings will be on display at the Columbia Art Gallery for one month, beginning on Friday, Sept. 1, along with works of invited artists.

Artist and show curator Cathleen Rehfeld encourages the public to come out and watch the artists as they paint and the writers as they write. She also invites the public to the show opening on Sept. 1 at the Columbia Center for the Arts.

The opening features an artist awards ceremony at 5:30 in the center's gallery. In addition, a special reading by the writers of their works, will take place in the theater from 6 to 8. Wine and hors d'oeuvres will be served in the gallery throughout the evening.

Painting- and write-out dates and locations are as follows:

Thursday, Aug. 24: Pheasant Valley Winery

Friday, Aug. 25: Downtown Hood River

Saturday, Aug. 26: The Discovery Center

Sunday, Aug. 27: Rasmussen Farm

Monday, Aug. 28: Columbia Gorge Hotel

Rehfeld suggests people show up early to the paint-out locations, as plein-air painters generally want to do their painting in the early part of the day.

She said, "Because they're painting outside, artists have to paint fast. Depending on what kind of a day it is, they may need to capture the scene before the clouds shift, before the light changes, or before the wind starts to kick-up."

About the writing component, Rehfeld said, "It's unique."

She says that while plein-air painting events are quite popular throughout the country, especially in beautiful places like the Gorge, the inclusion of a writing component isn't done all that often. "It's just one more benefit of being involved with the arts here in the Gorge."

Diane Allen, a poet from White Salmon and organizer for the writing event said, "This is an amazing opportunity for artists and writers to share an experience. We all have eyes, and we all look at things, but we all see things differently. It will be very interesting to see how all these artists and writers look at pretty much the same scenes, and then come up with so many different interpretations of them."

Joanie Thomson, executive director for the Columbia Center for the Arts, sums it up by saying: "The breathtaking vistas and scenic diversity of the Pacific Northwest's Columbia River Gorge region make it an ideal place to do plein air painting and writing. On account of that, we believe that this show has the potential to be one of our premier shows for years to come."

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