For every form of art, there is a dedicated community of locals banding together to teach, share, and support it. The Santa Cruz Watercolor Society is one such group offering personal and professional opportunities in plein air watercolor and creative critique since the early 1960s. Watercolor paintings from the Society’s current collective of artists are being exhibited at the R. Blitzer Gallery during the month of August.
What is now an active and thriving organization first started as informal gatherings by local artists. In 1962, Dave McGuire, a Cabrillo College art instructor, created a critique session to discuss work in studio and plein air exercises. A member of his group, Bernie Waymire, carried on the process of providing helpful feedback for artists. In the early 1970s, a local named Marian Goodman created a bulletin that published weekly meeting sites for artists interested in plein air watercolor. By the 1980s, Waymire and Goodman’s groups joined together to form a cooperative of artists and a critique group making up the SCWS.
The SCWS has been shaped and strengthened by the diverse practicing artists and instructors in the area, and includes opportunities for all watercolorists, regardless of whether or not their interest is focused on plein air painting. It consists of artists who have varying directions and goals, and all levels of experience and expertise are welcome to participate.
The Plein Air Group takes advantage of the many stunning and creatively inspiring natural locations along the coast and inland by meeting every week for casual outdoor painting. The Critique Group meets at 1pm on Tuesdays at the Santa Cruz Art League. The main objective of this friendly gathering is to provide artists with an immediate audience for new work and to provide helpful dialogue and feedback.
The Society meets once yearly for a business and social event, and hosts a yearly invitational show and occasional auxiliary shows. The organization also provides a network, resources, and ongoing opportunities to accommodate and support local artists and watercolor enthusiasts. The group offers a monthly newsletter with information on exhibits, workshops, paint/travel opportunities, contact for plein air and critique group activity, and details of where member work is being shown. Member artists are able to enjoy many benefits, including managing personal “gallery” pages on the SCWS website.
Shows have been presented in the past at different locations including the UCSC Arboretum and the MAH. The SCWS is currently exhibiting work at the R. Blitzer Gallery, located in the former Wrigley factory building. The brightly lit venue has three spacious rooms featuring a large and varied collection of work by 18 watercolor artists from the Society. The watercolor exhibit is up August 5th – August 27, 2016.
To learn about member opportunities and browse individual watercolor artist galleries online, visit the SCWS website.
The R. Blitzer Gallery is open Tuesday – Saturday, 11am – 5pm. Find out more about the gallery’s upcoming exhibits and events here.