Riverside’s Plein Art artists showing works at Brandstater

“Radiance,” pastel by Ada M. Passaro, Plein Air Artists of Riverside
“Radiance,” pastel by Ada M. Passaro, Plein Air Artists of Riverside

July 12, 2012

By Darla Martin Tucker

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – (www.lasierra.edu) Their life stories are varied, but one great passion unifies the Plein Air Artists of Riverside: they love to paint, to brush colors across a canvass in natural light and capture a moment in time.

“Lacy,” watercolor by Geeta Pattanaik, Plein Air Artists of Riverside
“Lacy,” watercolor by Geeta Pattanaik, Plein Air Artists of Riverside

The Plein Air Artists of Riverside, or PAAR is affiliated with the Riverside Art Museum. The group was established seven years ago with 10 members and has since attracted a membership of more than 75 professional and amateur artists who paint outdoors in locations around Riverside and areas of Southern California.

PAAR has exhibited in several locations including the Whitewater Preserve in Whitewater, the Riverside Community Art Association, and at the Maloof Foundation’s Jacobs Gallery in Alta Loma. This summer the group is putting their talent on display at La Sierra University’s Brandstater Gallery.

PAAR’s works will be exhibited at Brandstater Gallery through August 22, 2012. A closing reception will be held Aug. 22, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. The gallery is located in the university’s Visual Art Center. Gallery hours are Mon. – Thurs., 2 – 5 p.m., or by appointment by calling 951-785-2959. Admission is free. La Sierra University is at 4500 Riverwalk Parkway, Riverside. A campus map is available here.

Plein air painting, French for ‘open air,’ strives to capture natural light falling on the subject and draws upon the senses. The practice dates to the 11th century and was furthered during the 19th century by famous French Impressionist painters Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro and others.

Riverside’s Plein Air Artists, like artists of past eras, can be seen at times around the city and other parts of the region with their easels and paints, hats and umbrellas. They create light-infused watercolor, oil, pastel and acrylic paintings of coastlines, rock formations, flowers and interesting buildings such as Riverside’s Mission Inn and the mission at San Juan Capistrano. They meet monthly to paint, hold quarterly seminars with well-known artists, and coordinate an annual nine-day Paintout program with an art museum exhibit.

The group’s members hold current or past careers in a variety of fields including library science, graphic design, clerical work, and agricultural biology. They also hold lifelong interests in painting and often spend many hours per week pursuing their craft.

“I cannot remember not wanting to paint or draw,” said PAAR President Gary Rainsbarger, a Riverside resident more than 50 years and former graphic designer. “It is educational on many levels and a very satisfying way to grow personally.”

“My urge to paint is no different to feeling hunger and thirst. I have loved it since I was a child,” said Geeta Pattanaik, a former librarian 17 years all together in Great Britain and in the United States.

Pattanaik spends 20-25 hours a week on painting and the study of art, and teaches watercolor painting at the Riverside Art Museum. She sells and displays her works on her own web site. “When I paint, I feel extreme calmness and joy, almost the feeling one gets from meditation,” Pattanaik said. Her work titled “Lacy” is imprinted on a promotional postcard for the Brandstater Gallery exhibit.

“Plein air painting is somewhat of a metaphysical experience for me,” commented Sharon Suhovy, a Fontana resident and studio art professor at Riverside Community College and its Norco campus. “It transcends time and place. It teaches me to ‘see.’”

Deborah Kotaka began to seriously pursue painting, drawing and printmaking after a health crisis forced early retirement from her career as an agricultural biologist and inspector. She began volunteering at the Riverside Art Museum in 2006 and serves as PAAR’s hospitality chairwoman. “I like the skill that I’ve been building while taking workshops and classes at various galleries and museums in the Southern California region,” Kotaka said.

Ada M. Passaro, a former designer and illustrator and founding board member for PAAR is the exhibit chair for the Brandstater Gallery show. Passaro, a 51-year Riverside resident says she can’t imagine her life without the “drive” to paint. “I need to paint in order to feel fulfilled. I’m constantly seeing things I want and need to paint.”

PAAR founding member and retired administrative assistant Luz Perez expressed similar sentiments. She serves as PAAR’s recording secretary, sells her works on her own web site and teaches painting. “Painting to me is an expression of who I am,” Perez said. “I could not live without being able to paint or create art in some way or another.”


PR Contact: Larry Becker

Executive Director of University Relations

La Sierra University

Riverside, California

951.785.2460 (voice)

  • Last update on  July 12, 2012