By Julie Pendray
IDYLLWILD, Calif. — Top credits in Idyllwild’s outdoor painting contest this year went to artists from as far away as Moscow.
Kate Protasova, a 17-year-old Idyllwild Arts Academy student from Russia won Second Place. She has been studying at the pre-professional high school in the Southern Californian mountain village for two years.
Thirty-one artists took part in the Sizzling Summer Plein Air & Working Artist Gallery Tour on Saturday. Twenty-one painted outdoors, en plein air. Some painted Tahquitz Rock, also known as Lily Rock, which is a famous attraction for rock climbers from all over the world. Others chose scenes from Idyllwild’s sidewalks, alleyways and storefronts. Ten artists demonstrated their work at galleries.
First Place among plein air artists went to Fariad Ali of Oak Glen, near Yucaipa, California. Ali is a transplant from Trinidad who has lived in the United States for 37 years and has previously been Idyllwild Artist of the Year. His wife Jennifer also took part in the contest.
Ali chose to paint within a colorful walkway among Idyllwild’s quaint and rustic stores.
Kate did a painting of nearby Lake Fulmor. She said it is one of her favorite places here in the San Jacinto Mountain Range.
San Diego artist Paul Strahm won Third Place, with his sidewalk view from outside The Red Kettle restaurant.
Michael Newberry and Ginger Pena were awarded Honorable Mention. Each painted a rendition of Lily Rock. Newberry is an Idyllwild resident. Pena is from Angelus Oaks in the San Bernardino National Forest.
In his introduction for the awards presentation, Reid Marr offered the caveat that judging is a subjective endeavor and that he has his own tastes. He also gave the disclaimer that he was not given the artists’ names when he was shown their work. Kate is one of his students. Reid Marr said he was especially proud of her because he feels she has a tendency to “overwork” her paintings.
“So, given the time restrictions here, she did very well,” he said.
Kate and her parents, Sergei Protasov* and Elena Kalyagina, live in Idyllwild while she’s attending school here. Her parents were thrilled and her father in particular was quite emotional upon seeing Kate’s accomplishment.
Reid Marr described Ali’s painting as a good example of a “reductive” work.
“It’s simple, beautifully recognized,” he said.
He honored Strahm’s work for its composition and nice atmosphere.
“It has a feeling of both place and day,” he said.
Newberry’s rendition of Lily Rock showed a sky that is “just like Idyllwild skies,” Reid Marr said, noting that the piece truly evoked mood, with its gray and blue tones.
He chose Pena’s work for its detailed pastoral quality, he said.
The Sizzling Summer Plein Air & Working Artists Gallery Tour was presented by the Art Alliance of Idyllwild, a volunteer-based non-profit organization. Idyllwild is considered one of the top 100 art towns in the United States, according to a guide book by John Villani.
The awards were presented on Sunday on the grounds of Wilder Cabins, where some of this weekend’s out-of-town artists stayed.
* In Russia, Protasova is the feminine form of Protasov, Sergi said.
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