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Fresh concepts from regional artists

Paintings by four Rogue Valley artists are among the 80 selected for the Watercolor Society of Oregon's 43rd Aqueous Media Show. "The Bridesmaids" by Charlene Brussat of Jacksonville; "Inside Looking Out" by Lynda Haghan of Medford; "Sitting Pretty" by Pamela Ourshalimian of Ashland; and "Butte Creek Mill" by Dolores Ribal of Central Point were juried into the WSO show by painter and teacher Donna Zagotta of Michigan. Zagotta chose the paintings from more than 380 submissions from WSO artists.

The full exhibit was displayed at the Columbia Center for the Arts in Hood River until May 1, when the top 20 paintings selected to receive awards began a six-month tour of art venues in Oregon.

The traveling portion of WSO's Aqueous Media Show will be displayed through May 30 at the Grants Pass Museum of Art, 229 S.W. G St., Grants Pass.

Of the top 20 paintings, Ribal's "Butte Creek Mill" and Brussat's "The Bridesmaids" made the cut and are included in the exhibit. The full 80 will be available for viewing at watercolorsocietyoforegon.com online.

WSO holds juried exhibitions of its members' artwork twice annually, in the spring and in the fall. The organization's artists receive points for each show that their work appears in and for each award they receive at those shows.

"The point system moves WSO artists through its categories of members," says Brussat. "There are bronze, silver, gold, platinum and diamond members of the society. Dolores (Ribal) and I are both platinum members."

Brussat's painting earned an Award of Distinction at the Aqueous Media Show, and Ribal's painting took Fourth Place.

The distinction of the WSO awards helps its members as they strive to get into broader organizations such as the American Watercolor Society and the National Watercolor Society, Brussat says.

Brussat says that she submitted "The Bridesmaids" to the WSO show because of its dramatic quality and its large shapes.

"It's an interesting painting in that it is black and white with flesh tones," she says. "It's eye catching. I used a full range of value from light to dark, and the whole design excited me. It's different. I paint eclectic stuff."

Brussat is represented at Art & Soul Gallery in Ashland and at the Rogue Gallery in Medford. Four of her paintings will be displayed in the Art in Bloom Invitational exhibit displayed through Saturday, May 24, at the Rogue Gallery.

Ribal submitted "Butte Creek Mill" to the WSO show when she discovered that Zagotta is a fan of Richard Diebenkorn, a West Coast painter who explores positive and negative space.

"The painting is very loose and dark, not the traditional colors of a landscape," Ribal says. "It's more of a mood painting. I experimented with color around the shapes and the values in the background, and it just worked for me."

"I was on location with the Artists Workshop of Jacksonville, and I made several value sketches of the old mill and then created the painting in my studio."

Ribal has shown her work at past Art in Bloom and Artists Workshop exhibits.

For her own work, Zagotta, whose paintings have earned many first-place awards in exhibits across the nation, says that her interest lies in exploring the area that lies between realism and abstraction, according to her Web site. She chooses subjects that are open to both possibilities. Fresh concepts of shape, color and value concepts — along with lush strokes of paint — are what appeal to her.

Founded in 1966 with 85 artists, WSO now has about 900 active members. The organization's primary activities are holding exhibitions of members' work and providing education opportunities, both for the members and any who are interested in visual arts.

Along with the WSO show, watercolor paintings of scenes from Portugal by Charles Hill, founder of the Grants Pass Museum, also will be displayed through May at the museum. Hill, who operated Gallery One on Sixth Street in Grants Pass, founded the museum 1979 as a nonprofit. The museum was housed in an old maintenance building in Riverside Park for about 20 years before it was moved to its present location on G Street. Hill is now is permanent resident of Portugal.

The Grants Pass Museum of Art is open from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free. Call 479-3290.

'Butte Creek Mill' by Central Point artist Dolores Ribal is among the 20 paintings in the Watercolor Society of Oregon's traveling show.