If impressionism had never developed in the late 19th century, it would be easy to think the art movement that uses quick, spontaneous brush strokes to capture the play of natural light on everyday subjects might have sprung up among today's painters in the Rogue Valley.
Many local artists habitually brave all types of weather to paint outdoors, either individually or in groups devoted to "en plein air" painting. They pack up their gear and traipse off to fields, forests, mountains and the coast, coming back with art that captures the essence of each landscape.
So when Rogue Gallery & Art Center announced it would host a show inspired by impressionism, it was natural for nearly two-dozen gallery member artists to answer the call and submit work.
The result is "Impressionism: 150 Years and Still Fabulous," an exhibit that will run through July 7 at the gallery, at 40 S. Bartlett St., Medford.
The gallery will host a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 16, during the Third Friday Art Walk, when it and Art du Jour Gallery, 213 E. Main St., stay open into the evening.
Each year, Rogue Gallery chooses an art movement from the past and asks members to submit original art devoted to the theme.
Impressionism emerged in France in the late 1800s as young painters — tired of the historical, mythological and religious themes favored by the tradition-bound Académie des Beaux-Arts — ventured into the countryside, city streets and cafés to capture contemporary life. To traditionalists, their finished pieces looked like mere studies, something that should be used to create smooth, finished paintings of grand subjects back in the studio.
The Rogue Gallery artists are following in those Impressionist footsteps.
In her acrylic painting "Reflections," Valerie Dann recalls the work of Claude Monet. The most famous of the impressionists, Monet is known for his paintings of water lily-covered ponds, haystacks at sunrise and the Rouen Cathedral under changing light conditions.
In Dann's piece done in soft pastel shades, trees and flowers on shore are reflected in the still waters of a pond.
Phyllis Earls also gives a nod to Monet with a glass vessel adorned with dusty rose-colored water lilies on the outside and shimmering gold leaf in the interior.
Using quick, expert pastel strokes, Marilyn Hurst captures the essence of flowers in "Dancing Fields" and "Bountiful Garden."
For wine enthusiasts, Silvia Trujillo's "Fresh Harvest" is a still-life painting of grapes that gradate in color from deep maroon to pale green. The scene shifts to a vineyard illuminated by slanting light in Dann's "In a Row."
Walter Wirfs' oil painting "Thicket" reveals that a woodland of white-barked trees doesn't have to be a study in black and white, but contains subtle hints of mauve and lavender with touches of red.
He transports viewers to the beach with "Hole in the Rock," a painting that uses a remarkable economy of strokes to indicate a cave gouged out of a rocky cliff by years of wave action.
Linda Elesiya Evans uses a high vantage point for her painting "Coastal Trail," sketching in turbulent waves, the edge of a dark forest and a distant haystack rock with dabs of thick paint.
Leaving the outdoors behind, Earls' painting "Woman in Repose" would fit in with the frank portraits of women in Parisian bars by impressionist Edouard Manet and post-impressionist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec — artworks that scandalized traditionalists.
Other artists in the exhibit include Susan Austin, Rachel Barrett, Sandra Bartell, Linda Boutacoff, Ashley Clasby, Ann Di Salvo, Kim Faucher, Cynthia Flowers, Tom Glassman, Howard Hunt, Zelpha Hutton, Judy Benson LaNier, Dave Mathewson, Anna May, Vivian McAleavey, Kathy Morawiec and Charlotte Wirfs.
As part of its ode to impressionism, Rogue Gallery will show free one-hour documentaries about artists at noon on select Wednesdays in June and July. The June 21 film is about Edgar Degas, the June 28 movie features Pierre-August Renoir, and the July 5 film is on Toulouse-Lautrec.
Call 541-772-8118 or see roguegallery.org.
Art du Jour Gallery, 213 E. Main St., will hold a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday with appetizers, wine and cider, plus the guitar, keyboard and flute music of Minstrel Streams.
Cammy Davis will show mixed-media abstract paintings and jewelry made with her abstract art imagery during June and July. Judy Hubler will display her watercolor portraits of children in June.
On Friday, June 23, Art du Jour Galley and Central Art Supply will present “An Afternoon with Stefan Baumann," a discussion and demonstration by the Northwest artist of "The Grand View" about his life as an artist and his techniques, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Medford library, 205 S. Central Ave.
Baumann paints in oils on location and in his studio at the Grand View Ranch in Mount Shasta, California. His "en plein air" paintings display a mastery of the effects of light, shadow, color and composition. Subjects include the natural beauty Baumann sees in American wilderness landscapes, wildlife and older houses and barns. Through his work, spectacular places too remote and inaccessible for most can be seen. His work is displayed in fine-art galleries around the country and in the homes of collectors, including former American presidents.
Tickets are $25 and include admission to a reception at Art du Jour Gallery, 213 E. Main St., following the presentation. Tickets can be purchased at Art du Jour Gallery. Tickets will not be available at the library.
Call 541-512-9332 or see artdujourgallery.com.