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Blaine residents and visitors will be able to sample an eclectic mix of local art at the city’s second annual Summer-Aire art festival beginning 10 a.m. Saturday, July 15 at the Blaine International Mall, with an evening invitation-only reception on Friday.
With items such as painted gourds, oil paintings, ceramic planters, nude photography, hand-made jewelry, papier mache’ and wearable art such as a fuzzy orange hat called a “Pop Top Hat,” everyone should be able to find something interesting, said Bev Coltart, publicity coordinator and volunteer with the Semiahmoo Ladies’ Club that sponsored the event.
“You’ve got the very contemporary and very realist art such as the Provence painting with the lavender fields and then you got June Martsolf’s art, which is compared to the famous Group of Seven in Canada,” she said. “It should appeal to everyone’s tastes.”
This year’s featured artist is plein-air (pronounced plain-air) painter June Martsolf, of Blaine. Martsolf, a native of the Northwest, earned a bachelor degree of arts in fine art from the University of California at Berkeley and has taught several children and adult art classes in Blaine since then.
In her signature work titled “Red Bush,” she uses quick, sweeping, diagonal brush strokes and fall colors, an impressionistic acrylic on linen landscape painting. Coltart said her work is reflective of the natural environment surrounding Blaine.
“Her paintings are in tune with nature because they’re done (outside),” she said
Martsolf until recently would have called herself an abstract expressionist but she became interested in plein-air impressionism, or painting outdoors, after meeting with an long-time friend from California. Her initial experience out of the studio was jolting but she returned quickly for more.
“It was the worst day in the world,” she said. “It was raining, my paints blew over, but I was intrigued enough I came back the next time and I became interested very quickly. That is how I became a landscape painter.”
Other artists featured include mixed media artists Donna-Lee Elke, of Blaine, Trish Harding of Bellingham, and watercolorist Don Buck, of Blaine, who helped start the event last year. Buck’s featured piece titled “Reflections,” is an unusual and contrasting use of black, white and red impressionistic watercolor.
Coltart calls his work “striking.”
“I think it’s amazing for his use of black and white and the strength of the color,” she said. “(Those colors) are not used so much in water color. He definitely brings depth to the painting.”
Buck said he began watercolor painting when he retired from his school principal job in Orange County, CA. After that, he said he took some lessons at Laguna Beach School of Art and moved to central California where he pursued art as a hobby and volunteered with several art groups there.
“When I moved up here, there was not very many places artists could show their art,” Buck said. “We wanted to provide some assistance in the area for local artists and give them a venue to show their art and I think the club was looking for a way to raise money for scholarships. The two just seemed to work together.”
Buck said, however, the women of the Semiahmoo Ladies’ Club who accepted the challenge and went to work on the project deserve most of the credit.
Proceed from the event will go toward community projects and scholarships awarded by the ladies’ club. The organization, founded in 1982, has given nearly $37,000 in scholarships and more than $128,000 to various service organizations in the county.
The weekend-long event also coincides with the last three days of Blaine’s popular week-long summer Jazz Festival and the ongoing sculpture exhibit at Peace Arch Park. The Blaine International Mall is located on H Street. Parking is free. For more information, visit www.summer-aire.com.