Fog in August

Fog in August, Barview Tidepools, 2018, 12x16

The Oregon Coast Council for the Arts presents the exhibition, “A Public Treasure: Painting the Oregon Coast: Four Decades of the Sandgren PaintOut Project,” from Aug. 2 to Sept. 29 in the Runyan Gallery at the Newport Visual Arts Center.

This significant collection of paintings will include over 40 artists exhibiting over 50 works, portraying the dramatic and publicly owned Oregon coastline from Brookings to Astoria. A public reception for the exhibit will be held on Saturday, Aug. 10, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., with exhibit artists and curators discussing the project at 3:30 p.m.

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“A Public Treasure: Four Decades of Painting the Oregon Coast” has been drawn from an annual pilgrimage of painters—the Sandgren PaintOut. Started in 1978 by Nelson Sandgren, who taught classes in watercolor ant other media at Oregon State University from 1948 to 1986, the Sandgren PaintOut has continued under the direction of his son Erik Sandgren since 2004.

Led by Nelson or Erik, the PaintOut project has ventured to the Oregon Coast each summer for over 40 years. Professional and developing painters take classes in watercolor and to paint the coastline plain air using various media. The new exhibition at the VAC recognizes the significant creative and cultural contributions of Nelson and Erik Sandgren, and their fellow “PaintOut” participants, in celebrating the Oregon coast in all its changing grandeur.

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“A Public Treasure: Painting the Oregon Coast” was developed through a juried-review process, with over 175 works submitted by current and former PaintOut participants. Erik Sandgren, Tom Webb, OCCA’s VAC director, and Sandra Roumagoux, a Newport-based painter who studied under Nelson Sandgren, served as the exhibit jurors.

“Over the decades the format and name of the PaintOut has evolved. Its heart however remains the goal of painting with a fluency that belies an underlying pictorial integri­ty,” Sandgren said. “On a spectrum from strongly abstract to rather naturalistic, these nature- inspired paintings create equivalents in form for the freshness of coastal experience.”

Starting with Nelson Sandgren, his son explains, there has always been an emphasis on formal challenges that enhance the painters’ experience of experiment, observation, composition and above all, personal response. For this self-selected group of painters, individuality of expression seems to be supported by concentration on the stuff of painting, long days of observa­tion and attention to the fundamentals of painting and design. A variety of styles, variety of media and levels of experience have always been encouraged.

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“The exhibit should have the feel of walking the Oregon coast line, visually, from Brookings to Astoria,” Webb said. “We are here to celebrate the creativity of the painters, the coastline itself, and the fact that the Oregon coast is owned by its citizens.”

“With the world continuing hourly to more and more ‘high tech’ production through industry, I see the role of the artist and art as the opposite to this,” wrote Nelson Sandgren in 2000. “Art is a turning toward the work of the eye, hand and spirit and away from the machine and electric mechanical magic, thus to provide man with a necessary balance.”

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Nelson Sandgren is known to have influenced and nurtured countless painters as an instructor at Oregon State University. His work has been exhibited widely in solo exhibitions, and invitational and competitive exhibitions in oil, watercolor and lithography. Nelson Sandgren has been the subject of retrospective exhibits at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University, Michael Parsons Gallery in Portland and Karin Clarke Gallery in Eugene. Works by Nelson and Erik Sandgren will be included in the “Public Treasure” exhibition at the Newport Visual Arts Center.

“PaintOut Project participants represent the entire Oregon coast and convey coastal living: lighthouses, harbors, headlands, changing weather, boats and bridges, roads and beaches, headlands, wetlands and tide flats, estuaries and cliffs, forests, trees, snags drift­wood, state parks, middens and mountains, birds and creatures,” Sandgren said. “They look for familiar coastal subject matter visually structured into things of beauty and formal merit.”

“’A Public Treasure’ is a foundational part of “Art 363: Representing the Oregon Coast,” the VAC’s artistic celebration of the Oregon coast during August and September,” Webb said. “The group of artists and paintings included is just a small representation of what the PaintOut group has achieved over 40 years."

A complete list of exhibit artists will be available during the Aug. 10 opening reception.

The Runyan Gallery is open Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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