From left are Chris Slaughter, Nat Fast’s daughters Natalyn Huerth and Marti Fast, John Hood and Rita Ferri.

Nat Fast, known to many as a talented artist and the father of North County’s art community, died in October, but his legacy lives on through his paintings and the people he touched. Many of them came together May 7 to honor him during a reception at the Betteravia Gallery South.

Nat’s daughter Marti Fast, who is also an artist and the director of the Foxworthy Gallery, co-curated the exhibition “A Mindful Vision: The Legacy of Nat Fast.”

“I have an enhanced appreciation for everything that my dad painted, because these are paintings I don’t usually get to see,” Marti said. “We borrowed them from a lot of people. I think they are some of the best.”

She first learned art from her father at home and later in the classroom.

“He cultivated an ease with art as a language, art as a mode of energy in my life,” she said. “I have grown to see it as the mode of energy in everyone’s lives, no matter what they do.

“I think he had the most amazing creative eye and a really wonderful sense of design. And I think in some of them a sense of fun, especially in crowd scenes. He’s in the crowd scenes everywhere.”

Nat’s daughter Natalyn Huerth also attended the reception.

“He was all about learning, creating and giving back beauty. I think that’s really reflected in these works,” Natalyn said. “He was a great guy. He was so lucky to have been honored so many times in his lifetime. We’ve been going to things with him for years. It meant so much to him. I really don’t think he realized the impact he made, not just in the art world, but on people.”

John Hood, who is a County Arts Commissioner and instructor at Hancock College, had the idea for the exhibition.

“It’s a wonderful tribute to his work and dedication to the arts community,” he said. “Nat’s work is romantic. He’s more of a naturalist. He has a very unique palate.”

Karen Ransome collects Nat’s paintings.

“His work has always had a warmth to it,” she said. “You feel like you’ve been on the trip with him because of the way he portrays everything. I think we all miss him. Every place we go, you kind of feel like Nat’s there. You see the influence of his art.”

Janice Cofield has some of Nat’s artwork.

“I adore his art. It makes me feel really good,” she said. “He was really good at making us understand the community we live in because he did a lot of art that captured our surroundings.”

Chris Slaughter is the executive director of the Discovery Museum, which holds a Nat Fast Day every year:

“You can feel Nat in all these pieces here,” she said. “I don’t think anyone did as much for children and arts education in this region and beyond.”

Gale McNeeley was a student of Nat’s.

“I never thought that I could draw, but it’s true anyone can draw once you see it,” she said. “He taught you how to see something so you could them put it down on paper just with a simple line.”

Gale coordinates a study session called Fast Art on the second Tuesday of every month at 11 a.m. at Café Noir. It started with Nat as the teacher and has continued in his honor. It is open to anyone who is interested in discussing art.

“A Mindful Vision: The Legacy of Nat Fast” continues through Aug. 14 at the Betteravia Gallery.

Jeanne Sparks is a writer, photographer and graphic artist. For information, call 739-1836; email jeanne@jeannesparks.com; visit www.jeannesparks.com; or write to her at P.O. Box 6437, Santa Maria CA 93456-6437.

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