The California Art Club, one of the oldest and most active fine-arts organizations in California, wrapped up its Centennial Celebration with "Paint Out," an invitation to 25 club artists to paint "en plein air" (in the open air) at the lush gardens surrounding La Casita, a Pasadena cultural landmark overlooking the Arroyo Seco. Artists were asked to focus on the flowers and foliage in the landscape, befitting the club's original location at the home of the "King of Roses," also known as renowned plein-air artist Franz Bischoff.
Turn of the century artists played a large role in attracting people from the East Coast and Mid-West to Southern California by introducing this corner of the country on canvas. Brilliant new landscapes with its diverse topography, an endless reign of sunshine, and a vibrant palette of new colors harnessed the alluring power of Southern California.
Launching next Monday, October 17th, Chapter Two: The Arroyo Culture of Departures: Highland Park will explore the migration of these artists to the Arroyo Seco and their contributions to the growth and preservation of the area as an artist enclave.
Elaine Adams, Executive Director of the California Art Club, and Peter Adams, her husband and President of the Club, revived interest in plein-air when they joined the organization in 1993. Committed to keeping traditional arts alive, the organization runs special outreach programs and events like "Paint Out," for the public to immerse themselves in the meditative, reflective qualities of representational art.
"I think the best part of plein air is being out in nature, and luckily in California we still have nature to paint and appreciate", artist and California Club board member Gayle Garner Roski remarked while sketching under the shade of a towering Oak Tree. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Roski sees the resurgence of plein air painting as a way to capture the present moment in a way that cannot be achieved in modern art. The movement's emphasis on working in natural light in an area like the Arroyo Seco offers artists a dazzling natural realm that cannot be found in other parts of Los Angeles. "When they were painting a hundred years ago, there were lots of natural beauty. Today there is very little of it," Roski adds, "There are only the parts that have been conserved by human beings and set aside as important."
Plein air itself is being conserved, as we will explore in our last chapter of Departures: Highland Park, November 21st. Currently, with events like "Paint On," artists are venturing out into the open more frequently, even to urban landscapes to paint "en plein air," interpreting the style for today with their own contemporary flavor.
This Sunday, October 16th at La Casita from 11-4 p.m., the paintings created during "Paint-On" will be exhibited and sold, proceeds from which will benefit the California Arts Club's educational arts programs and the La Casitia Foundation. Make sure to stop by for a glimpse of the resurgence, and a bit of history on plein air.
Additional reporting by Kelly Simpson.