More than just an art gallery, the Pacific Grove Art Center brings the community together. In celebration of this, the PG Art Center has timed the opening of their newest exhibit to coincide with Pacific Grove's Wine, Art and Music Walk on Friday night.

Though the entire walk is from 6-9p.m., featuring extended hours for a variety of galleries, shops and restaurants in PG, the exhibit opening will take place from 7-9p.m. The reception will include a solo piano performance by Michael Martinez as well as refreshments and wine.

In addition, the Art Center will offer extended hours (7-9p.m.) on the First Friday of each month, featuring an open mic for teens and young adults. Admission to the Art Center is free.

Jaqui Hope, executive director of the Art Center, said that one of the reasons the center is so attractive to local artists is that it has one of the largest spaces on the Peninsula that's available for exhibits such as this — both for displaying art, as well as accommodating the large crowds that exhibit openings tend to lure.

"We usually attract 500 people or more," said Hope, explaining that "with 9,000 square feet, we have space for them without getting overwhelmed."

In addition to the four galleries available for exhibits, the Art Center offers hallway space to display the work of professional artists, teachers and students.

Exhibits featured at Friday's opening include "From small to LARGE" by Monterey Bay Plein AirPainters Association; "Championing the Arts Tour," with photography and children's art from Erin Lee Gafill and Tom Birmingham's journey across America; "Familiar Surroundings," oils and pastels by Cheryl Kampe; "Cloudscapes" paintings by Sheila Delimont; "The Hour of Pearl" by C.K. Copeland; as well as work from the Art Center's First Saturday Figure Drawing Class.

"From small to LARGE" was created by artists painting a small piece of plein air work, then taking the painting back to the studio where they could create large-scale elaborations of the pieces with the luxury of water, equipment and enhanced studio lighting. Each display will feature the original piece created in the field alongside its larger companion painting.

"You're out there in the wind and (elements) and can stay true to the moment — which is a beautiful thing," said Hope. "But in the studio you can get a whole different range of possibilities."

"Championing the Arts Tour" will feature a display of photography and children's art from Gafill and Birmingham's six-month journey across America, where they met with a wide range art educators and taught creative workshops to children.

"While we all acknowledge the value of creative expression in children's lives, often that expression is relegated to the refrigerator door," the teachers wrote in an artists' statement. "By bringing this work to the gallery wall, we encouragevisitors toappreciate the richness and immediacy of these works, and tocontemplate the effect of bringingthis unalloyed personal expression to their own work."

This display includes iconic photographs from places the couple traveled — from Carmel to Maryland, Tennessee, Texas and Louisiana — alongside large-scale photographs on stretched canvas of children creating art, plus the art work itself.

Cheryl Kampe's exhibit "Familiar surroundings" includes both plein air and studio work in oils and pastels. This body of work marks the first time the artist has moved from creating in the studio to creating in the field — a process she described as "a never-ending quest to capture the scene, the light, the movement and the atmosphere."

"I am always amazed to be painting such beauty around me — the familiar surroundings of our Monterey Peninsula," wrote Kampe in an artist's statement. "I have always been a studio painter so working for the first time outdoors brings a wonderful challenge to translate the beauty that is before me."

"Cloudscapes" by Sheila Delimont features oil and pastel paintings that evoke the ever-changing nuances of the Western sky.The pieces are sometimes meditative, depicting soft morning light breaking through a cloud bank,at other times dramatic, with dark storm clouds lit by the passing sun.

Hope said that the ability to convey the grandiosity and mood of the sky is an especially challenging thing for a painter to capture: "Very few people are able to do it and she does it quite well."

The final exhibit will show the work of students from the Art Center's First Saturday Figure Drawing Class. In what Hope said is the Peninsula's longest-running figure drawing class, students gather in one gallery on the first Saturday of each month to draw representations of a professional nude model.

"We get the full range of students, from absolute beginners to people that have been artists for 15 years or more," said Hope. "It's always a mix of professional people and students and everyone in-between."

Lily Dayton can be reached at montereybaylily@gmail.com.GO!


ART OPENING
·What: New exhibits opening
·Where: Pacific Grove Art Center, 568 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove
·When: Opening reception 7-9p.m. Friday, July 22; exhibits continue through Sept. 1; Gallery hours Wed-Sat noon- 5p.m., Sunday 1-4 p.m; extended hours with open mic from 7-9p.m. the First Friday of each month
·Tickets: Free, donations welcomed
·Information: 375-2208, or online at www.pgartcenter.org