Crazy about Art — The Eclectic Paintings of the Blue Mountain Artist Guild

An eclectic show of various media, subject matter, and art styles by the Blue Mountain Artist Guild, at Wenaha Gallery
An eclectic show of various media, subject matter, and art styles by the Blue Mountain Artist Guild, at Wenaha Gallery

There are so many misconceptions about artists, the most pronounced being that they are solitary creatures, reluctant to appear in daylight, preferring instead to lurk like hermits in their attic-loft studios.

Chickens, original watercolor by Sylvia Beuhler of the Blue Mountain Artist Guild, Dayton, WA, showing at the Wenaha Gallery.
Chickens, original watercolor by Sylvia Beuhler of the Blue Mountain Artist Guild, Dayton, WA, showing at the Wenaha Gallery.

Outside of mass media interpretation, however, artists are people like any other, and many of them enjoy assembling to socialize and encourage. One such group is The Blue Mountain Artist Guild of Dayton, WA, consisting of some dozen painters, who gather monthly to provide new artwork for the community — which they hang at the Delaney Building near the library and the Dayton General Hospital lobby.

“Our meetings are generally informal, sometimes a program is presented, and we always discuss the inspiration for our latest work and any special technique or process used in its creation,” according to Meredith Dedman, current president of the group, who, with  longtime area resident Vivian McCauley, co-created the BMAG in 2008.

Number 500, original watercolor by Meredith Dedman of the Blue Mountain Artist Guild, at Wenaha Gallery.
Number 500, original watercolor by Meredith Dedman of the Blue Mountain Artist Guild, at Wenaha Gallery.

“We had both belonged to art associations in Arizona and Florida, and we missed the camaraderie and inspiration when a group of artists get together,” Dedman explains.

That camaraderie these days revolves around the challenge of painting to a monthly theme, which the group decides upon and schedules up to a year in advance. This year’s challenges range from Something Red — to be shown in February — to Collage in April, Caricatures in October, and Toys in December. Summer’s challenge, in July and August, requires each artist to paint from the same reference.

Evening Meal, original acrylic painting by Brenda North of the Blue Mountain Artist Guild, at the Wenaha Gallery.
Evening Meal, original acrylic painting by Brenda North of the Blue Mountain Artist Guild, at the Wenaha Gallery.

“I was excited when I joined the Guild to find that they had a ‘theme’ for each month’s display of paintings,” member Brenda North says. “It was good to have fresh ideas and feedback from other artists.”

Co-member Sylvia Beuhler, who holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts and taught art in public school, initially was not as enthusiastic about the concept.

“At first, I didn’t like the theme idea,” she says, “but after about a year, I really started to enjoy playing with the theme to see what I could come up with.”

The Conversation, original watercolor painting by Michele McIntire-Smith of the Blue Mountain Artist Guild, at the Wenaha Gallery.
The Conversation, original watercolor painting by Michele McIntire-Smith of the Blue Mountain Artist Guild, at the Wenaha Gallery.

Beuhler and North join Dedman, along with Kris Takemura and Michele McIntyre-Smith, to present a guild showing of their work at Wenaha Gallery, Dayton, WA, through March 7. A reception is scheduled Saturday, February 21, from 1 – 4 p.m., with all five artists in attendance, reflecting a subject matter ranging from seascapes to chickens, in acrylic and watercolor media, the latter the preferred medium of the exhibitors.

“Watercolors can produce beautiful and sometimes unforeseen results because of the difficulty of control,” Takemura, a retired early childhood and elementary teacher, observes.

Ballerina, original watercolor by Blue Mountain Artist Guild member Kris Takemura, for the Wenaha Gallery
Ballerina, original watercolor by Blue Mountain Artist Guild member Kris Takemura, for the Wenaha Gallery

Dedman thrives on the medium, having studied under well known watercolorists such as Sue Archer, Ann Pember, Tom Jones, Pat Weaver, Diane Maxey, and Karlyn Holman. In the spirit of learning and sharing, Dedman offers watercolor classes of her own, and several guild members take advantage of the opportunity..

As is the situation with many artists, guild members paint where they can, some in designated studios, others in spaces that become studios by virtue of being made to function as one. North turned a spare bedroom into a space to create; Takemura expropriated a table in her Rec room; McIntire-Smith chose a room in her home where she looks out at, and is inspired by, the deer-filled, bird habitat adjacent to the Touchet River.

“There is never a shortage of beauty in nature where we live,” North says. “And it’s good to have fresh ideas and feedback from other artists.”

McIntire-Smith agrees, echoing the sentiments of others in the group:

“I am grateful to the other members,” she says, “for their insights and encouragement.”

So, the next time you see the crazy artist, in the movies, mumbling and muttering to himself, and plucking at his ear, remember that they’re not all that way.

Wenaha GalleryThe Blue Mountain Artist Guild is the Art Event: Pacific Northwest Feature at Wenaha Gallery from February 9, 2015 through March 7, 2015 at Wenaha Gallery’s historic Dayton, WA location, 219 East Main Street. There is a reception with the artists present on Saturday, February 21, from 1 to 4 p.m. Free refreshments provided.

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

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