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‘Painting Our Parks’ opens at Santa Cruz County Bank’s five branches Monday

Modified: Thursday, Sep 13th, 2012

"Ranch Horses" is an oil on canvas painting by Michele Hausman, showing at the Santa Cruz County Bank in Watsonville, as part of the ongoing exhibit, "Painting Our Parks." (Photos by Tarmo Hannula and Erik Chalhoub/Register-Pajaronian).

WATSONVILLE — All senses will be stimulated in the viewer when they witness the latest art exhibit at the Santa Cruz County Bank.

Through their works, the 14 artists participating in “Painting Our Parks” take the viewer to numerous California county, state and national parks.

Curated by Joan Blackmer, the exhibit, which officially opens Monday, features more than 100 plein air paintings of the parks by members of Santa Cruz Oil Painters. Scenes from parks such as Yosemite, Point Lobos and Quail Hollow are represented.

“I try to capture the feeling of the sun, the smell of the fields,” said Michele Hausman, who has eight pieces of work across the five branches of the bank. “When you’re painting, you’re there for three to four hours, and all your senses become engaged.”

Not only do the artists’ senses become active, but the viewers’ do as well, she said.

“You also want (the viewer) to be stimulated in their memories for similar places they’ve been to,” she said.

Participating artist Karin Leonard, who also has her work on display at the Santa Cruz County Fair, noted that the viewer will “have their own memories and feelings” associated with the paintings.

“Every place has its energy,” she said. “What I want to portray for the viewer is the feeling of that place, not so much copying what I see, but sharing that experience with the viewer.”

During a time when California’s State Park System has weathered the possible closure of 70 state parks due to budget cuts, the artists will donate 20 percent of art sales to the Friends of Santa Cruz County State Parks.

“We’ve been kind of inspired to do this when the program went into crisis,” Hausman said.

Going further, Leonard is the founder of PaintTheParks.com, a website where artists worldwide can sell works they have painted at a park and donate a portion of their sales to their respective parks.

The Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce will hold a mixer at the bank’s Watsonville branch, 595 Auto Center Dr., on Sept. 20 from 5-7 p.m. A raffle will be held, and 50 percent of raffle proceeds will benefit Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks.

A reception will be held on Sept. 27 from 5:30-7 p.m. at the bank’s Santa Cruz branch, 720 Front St.

“Painting Our Parks” runs through Jan. 18.


“Painting Our Parks,” opening Monday, is at the Santa Cruz County Bank’s five locations: Watsonville: 595 Auto Center Dr., Aptos: 7775 Soquel Dr., Capitola: 819 Bay Ave., Santa Cruz: 720 Front St., Scotts Valley: 4604 Scotts Valley Dr.

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