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“Parnassius clodius and Disecta Formosa” by Megan Gnekow.

Artists in the Lookout: Plumas Arts November gallery show

Lenora Herndon said she was glad she spent time at the lookout, “It was empowering to get there and do it, but I found it intense. It wasn’t restful.”

The November show at the Plumas Arts Gallery will feature artworks created by the 2018 Artists in the Lookout. The opening for the 2018 Artists in the Lookout: Megan Gnekow, Lenora Herndon and Wendy Wayman will take place Friday, Nov. 9,from 5 to 7 p.m.

Each of these artists had a four day and night stay literally at the top of the mountains in the Black Mountain Lookout given time and solitude to be inspired by a dramatic vantage overlooking 200 square miles of forest.

The lookout is situated on the eastern edge of the Beckwourth Ranger District, 10 miles from Highway 395, near Milford. The lookout offers striking views of Honey Lake to the north, and Last Chance Creek to the south and is available for rental recreation use.

Information can be found with a search for “Black Mountain Lookout Plumas National Forest” or contact the Beckwourth Ranger District Office in Blairsden, 836-2575.

Megan Gnekow

Megan Gnekow (pronounced knee-cow) brought her background in Art and Science Illustration spending one of the last weeks in June at the lookout to collect ideas, information and preliminary sketches for her book “Wildlife and Wildflowers: A Plumas National Forest Coloring Book.”

The book of drawings illustrates some of the flora and fauna and ecosystems present in the area around the Black Mountain Lookout. The coloring book will be available to view and purchase at the Plumas Arts Gallery.

In her own words: “As an artist I believe it is my responsibility to honor the beauty, wildness and value of every species on this planet. I want to bring the details of the moth wing into focus. I want to share that the little blue butterfly in the meadow is looking for the bright pink inside-out flowers where she can lay her eggs and continue the life cycle of her species. My mission is to celebrate these connections and honor the role they play in sustaining the ecosystems where we live.”

Lenora Herndon and Wendy Wayman

This piece by Megan Gnekow is titled “Jeffrey Pine Food Web.”

Lenora Herndon and Wendy Wayman spent their time in the lookout together with a residency that they planned as “Plein Air par Deux.” It was their premise to challenge the notion that aesthetic engagement with nature need be a solitary activity using an oft-quoted saying in Plein Air circles, “It takes two artists to paint: one to paint and the other to tell her when to stop.”

Though in a common residency, both artists produced a number of vividly colorful and distinctly different canvases.

Herndon offers these words about her experience, “I’m really glad I did it. It was empowering to get there and do it, but I found it intense. It wasn’t restful. [From the vantage] you see 200 miles in 360 degrees. The challenge was to bring it to a smaller canvas. It taught me to edit, to figure out what was important, and I found that my asset was my palette. I know color. It pushed me as a painter, this whole experience, and I am grateful for that.”

In reflecting upon their time above the clouds Wayman reported, “One way to travel is to go to an environment rich with stimuli and sit still, riding the earth on its axis for several days while letting the world swirl around you. We did this on Black Mountain Lookout, watching the light build to brightness in the midday and fading by the hour into the West at night.

“Since we were lucky enough to be there on the Summer Solstice, we had hours to catch and record this dance of light and color, building to extreme chroma, and fading into grays and then darks. For two Colorists, as we are, this was an exciting journey.”

Artists in the Lookout Residency program

Another view of the landscape at Black Mountain Lookout by Wendy Wayman. The public is invited to the opening reception at the Plumas Arts Gallery on Friday, Nov. 9, or to visit during the month of November.

The Artists in the Lookout Residency program has been a four-year partnership between Plumas Arts and Plumas National Forest. The Forest offers the lookout stays to the artists and Plumas Arts coordinates the program. Visual and literary artists as well, have been chosen for the residency. In return, each offers original pieces to hang in the USFS offices, as well as images for cards or words for chapbooks — and now a coloring book — with proceeds from these sales providing Plumas Arts with financial support for the program.

The public is invited to the Opening Reception at the Plumas Arts Gallery on Friday, Nov. 9, or to visit during the month of November, to view the works and support the Lookout Artist Residency with a purchase of some of the cards, chap or color books.   

Plumas Arts is the local arts agency representing Plumas County in the California Arts Council State Local Partnership, which creates a network throughout the state in counties large and small, urban and rural.

Grant funding from the California Arts Council provides significant support to Plumas Arts making possible numerous countywide programs in arts education, information services, events production and more. To learn more about the work of Plumas Arts, or to lend support as a member donor or sponsor, visit the website at plumasarts.org.

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