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Colors in the Valley: Artistic Expressions of the San Gabriel Valley

By Ea Nicole Madrigal
On a rainy Sunday afternoon, most people will stay inside the cozy comfort of their homes. However, last Sunday, there were some who braved the dreary grey skies and ventured over to the Pasadena Museum of History for the final day of the Contemporary Masters Artistic Eden IV Exhibit (Contemporary Masters). These visitors traded the grey clouds above for the colorful exhibition inside which featured over 70 artists who portrayed their own perspectives of the San Gabriel Valley.
This exhibit was a pleasant reminder of the true beauty as well as diversity of the San Gabriel Valley. It was also a showing of the immense talent and artistic expressions which allow a viewer to experience the Valley within a single framed painting or portrait.
Contemporary Masters utilized the subtitle “Scenes of Everyday Life in the San Gabriel Valley.” The exhibit lasted from early October through January 11. It was sponsored by the Pasadena Art Gallery Association. The exhibit featured both independent artists as well as artists affiliated with galleries. These various artists masterfully and with a kaleidoscope of colors illustrated the natural beauty as well as urban landscapes of our vast region.
These artists did not miss any of the major markers that make up what most people consider characteristics or institutions of the San Gabriel Valley. On display in various artistic mediums were sites such as Eaton Canyon, the wisteria of Sierra Madre, Colorado Boulevard, the Metro Line, the Pasadena Power plant, Montrose, the Rose Parade, Descanso Gardens, Pasadena City Hall, the San Gabriel Mission, the Norton Simon Museum, the Arboretum, the Rose Bowl, the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens, and even In-N-Out.
Much of the exhibit was composed of scenic aspects in the Valley rather than an emphasis on the people who inhabit it. There were some portrayals of people, but the clear focus of aimed to bring the “sites” that travelers or residents of the San Gabriel Valley see while driving by or while they are out taking a stroll. Certainly, you might have a memory at any one of the previously mentioned sites (likely, you have memories at several).
Undoubtedly, that is exactly what this exhibit was meant to portray. Viewers of the art are meant to take a walk down memory lane as they see some of the sites that not simply make the Valley so beautiful and interesting but also make it their home.
For instance, Vincent Takas’ watercolor “Morning at Santa Anita” stirs the emotions of anyone who has visited the Great Race Place. He accurately uses a blend of mint green to illustrate the buildings’ façade all the while capturing the scene within two giant palm trees in the foreground. Or, Fernando Perez, Jr., whose oil painting “Colorado Boulevard” mixes a variety of colors while portraying the grey buildings that line the crowded, infamous street (even including the well-known Metro bus waiting to drive away).
For many of us in the San Gabriel Valley, these scenes are all too familiar. Most personally striking was an oil painting created by Ezra Suko titled “Sunset on Del Mar.” Suko paints soft sunset colors marked by the melting yellow of the sky while in the foreground the lavender purple flowers of a large tree capture the viewer’s eye. Because I once lived on the corner of Del Mar and Los Robles, I remember looking out each morning at the church that Suko includes in the background of his work.
Paintings like Suko’s and the other forms of artistic expressions represented at the Contemporary Masters remind us all why we love the San Gabriel Valley and why we are so proud to call it our home.

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