It's May and our hillsides are abloom with bright yellow mustard (thank you mission padres for marking the El Camino trail with seeds), brilliant orange California poppies and a colorful variety of lupine. After the soaking rains, the growth is spectacular and I've seen some wildflowers on my various drives that I'd never seen before. Some of you made it to Carrizo Plains for the super bloom and the photos and paintings coming out of those trips are simply awesome.

May in the gallery brings us a special show, titled "Bloom," by featured artist Vicki Andersen, painter and muralist. If you know Vicki's work, you know she paints in vivid colors and bold palette knife strokes and her selection for this show is indicative of her lively style. Along with old houses (including Casa San Julian), white picket fences supporting a variety of flowers, Central California hillsides (in bloom!) are also represented. I can't tell you which one is my favorite, because I'm drawn to them all.

Please join the artist at her show reception on Saturday, May 6, from 3 to 5 p.m., where you can enjoy the show while sipping wine and nibbling on finger foods. This is a grand opportunity to see a large grouping of Vicki's paintings, all for sale. You will definitely want to see this show, which runs through May 28.

The People's Choice award for March went to Vicki Andersen for her painting of Jalama Beach. Also, the Best of Show winner of April's juried show was Alan Freeman for his "Upper Miguelito Canyon" acrylic painting. Congratulations to two fine painters.

Other talented local artists and photographers are showing their colors, too. Diane Atturio's watercolor painting "Prickly Pear" is fresh with cactus greens and bright pink blooms. Linda Gooch's acrylic painting "Wisteria Cottage, Lompoc" will have some of you swooning over the beauty of the old cottage and cascading lavender wisteria. An acrylic painting by Ed Heintz, titled "Northern Lights," is fascinating in its subject matter and array of greens. I also like the simple watercolor portrait called "Granny," painted by Claudette Carlton.

There is lots of photography exhibited this month, much of it gallery-wrapped on canvas (a great look), including a number of Nancy Hall's dramatic African animal shots, and work submitted by new LVAA members Barbara and Floyd Snyder. I especially like Barbara's dramatic seascape "17 Mile Drive" and Floyd's "U.S. Post Office, Los Olivos."

The gallery has many gift items made by member artists and artisan craftspersons. You'll find a multitude of affordable handcrafted items: small original paintings and prints, featuring La Purisima Mission, Lompoc scenes, animals and florals, as well as jewelry, glass pieces, pottery, gourds, textile items and handcrafted Lompoc souvenirs. In addition, there is an extensive selection of greeting cards for all occasions.

Cypress Gallery, which is operated by the members of the Lompoc Valley Art Association, is located at 119 E. Cypress Ave. in Lompoc. Hours are noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. For information, call 737-1129 or visit lompocart.com.

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