"California Dreaming," "California Here I Come" and the sweet strains of "Ventura Highway" are on the playlist for a walk through the Cypress Gallery this month.

September and the lingering days of summer are in full display. Golden grasses, vintage vehicles, roads and coastlines adorn the walls. Our featured artist Liz Poulin Alvarez captures the beauty of our state in paintings and drawings that evoke a golden world of “seasons crying no despair,” if you remember that line from the band America. In a show titled “Coasts and Cars,” Alvarez expresses her visual experience in broad, direct strokes that narrate the essence of the California landscape.

Alvarez has completed years of fine art education and practice that inform her multifaceted career. A graduate of the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, she earned a Master of Fine Arts from the Whitecliffe College of Art and Design in New Zealand, and is currently an art educator and a member of several arts organizations. The artist is adept at various media, including oil, acrylic, watercolor and charcoal, exploiting each to its maximum emotive potential.

A large, translucent watercolor landscape greets the viewer upon entering. Its hills, foliage and valleys roll along in one harmonious flow, meeting a vaporous sky. Attentive to the geometries found in nature, Alvarez arranges compositions that actively engage the viewer.

In the oil on linen “Midland Trail,” our eyes begin in a steep ravine, pass through the ensuing layers of nature, creating a pathway up to the sensuous sky. In ”Point Lobos,” a highlight of the show, appropriate brushstrokes describe the texture of rocks, water and air. This is colorful, joyful, healing art that includes wonderful paintings of cars, one of which can be found reproduced on a must-have glovebox bag!

Speaking of vehicles, in the main gallery Lee Hill displays several paintings of trucks abandoned to nature, be it the desert or an old farmyard. They have been laid to rest but have no shortage of personality.

In “Barn Find,” an anthropomorphic, rusty truck is so cute it looks as if it’s about to crack a joke. In an opposing mode, Neil Andersson’s impressionist style of subtle colors and tones evoke contemplative thoughts and feelings. In “Beattie Park” and “La Purisima Mission,” Andersson transforms scenes familiar to us into extraordinary places of wonder and even reverence.

Artists pursue their fancies as well. Sharon Hedman’s “Angel Wings” is a work that stands out for its personal symbolism. Branches with tiny hearts enclose a violet space with a pair of angel wings held up by strings. Julia Nash is ready for October with her forcefully painted “Edgar Allan Poe.”

Douglas Clark’s “Indian,” with Native American dress and closed eyes, has large monarch butterflies surrounding his head. This month features Kathy Badrak’s handmade journals, beautifully bound in oil-tanned Italian leather and hand-printed fabric, displayed in one of her hand-painted gourds.

So many of our gallery artists this month give the viewer the feeling of being on an adventure in the heart of California and beyond. “The free wind is blowing through your hair ... and the days surround your daylight there ... .” Take a walk through the Cypress! You just might find yourself humming.


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