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Rarely Seen Manser Paintings Open At Maryhill Museum

Exhibit up through July

Maryhill Museum of Art invites the public to the opening of its 69th season on Saturday, March 15, with a special exhibition of rarely shown paintings by noted Pacific Northwest artist Percy L. Manser (1886-1973).

A Hood River resident, England-born Manser was known as "The Grand Old Man of Hood River Painters," and specialized in paintings that captured the grandeur of the Columbia River Gorge and the Cascade Mountains. The exhibit consists of 48 paintings drawn from private collections and public institutions from throughout the Northwest and ends July 6.

March 15 opening activities include:

A 2:30 p.m. talk by Manser scholar and Husum resident Jim Tindall entitled "Percy Manser, the Man and His Art."

A 4 p.m. gallery walk by museum curator Lee Musgrave to discuss the work on view.

From 1-4 p.m. visitors are invited to express their creativity through the art of landscape collage with art educator Mary Cooper.

Using basic art techniques, visitors are invited to create landscapes based on their unique sense of color, line, balance and perspective.

Manser's style of painting in the plein air tradition captures the grandeur and light of the region and earned him a reputation for glowing oil paintings and radiant watercolors.

Manser won more than 100 awards in exhibitions from Portland to New York and earned an eminent place in Northwest art. Several times during the 1930s he was selected to represent Oregon at the American Artists Professional League exhibition at Rockefeller Center in New York.

During his lifetime, his work was exhibited at the Seattle Art Museum, Frye Art Museum, the Portland Art Museum and numerous other venues of note. Maryhill Museum now has four Manser paintings in its permanent collection, all of which are in the exhibition.

One of them, "Fall Landscape" (c. 1960 oil on board), was a recent gift from Jim and Sue Foster. "Few artists have been as admired as Manser for the gentle manner in which he encouraged individuals to allow art to enrich their lives and to enhance their community," said museum curator Lee Musgrave.

"My grandfather sang to start the day and almost every day would include a song called 'Look for the Silver Lining,' and I think he looked for that in his paintings, too," said Marilyn Manser Avolio of Hood River. "It's very appropriate for an exhibit to be held at Maryhill as he loved the museum. The fact that Maryhill was away from the big cities and in a rural area pleased him. He loved the countryside around the museum -- the hills, the river, the rocks, and the light and shadows there."

During his lifetime, Maryhill Museum of Art presented five Percy Manser exhibits. This current exhibit will mark the 60th anniversary of the first solo exhibition of his work at Maryhill Museum.

Manser's paintings are also in the permanent collections of the Portland Art Museum, Oregon Historical Society, University of Oregon and numerous other public and private collections.

The Percy L. Manser: Grandeur & Light exhibit and related programs is sponsored by Humanities Washington.

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