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New exhibit at Atascadero Library highlights both manmade and natural scenes of the Central Coast



With paintings situated throughout its wall space, Atascadero Library's new exhibit, Drawn to the Central Coast, makes for a quiet and contemplative viewing experience. Inspired by images of the Central Coast, locally based artists Tracy Paz and Drew Mayerson are the featured painters in this exhibition, which runs until Feb. 28, 2020.

Each bringing varied backgrounds and artistic styles to the show, Paz and Mayerson drew inspiration from different aspects of California imagery, resulting in a group of paintings that complement one another.

Mayerson finds himself drawn to cityscapes, though he has a background in landscape work. He also said that he has moved toward a more abstract style in his recent years of work.

"As a geologist, I was very into landscapes at first," Mayerson told New Times of how his career background influenced his early work. "I loved landscapes, but I stopped dwelling on them maybe 20 years ago and moved towards cityscapes. I'm from Southern California, and growing up in the city, it just felt more comfortable to me to be painting the light and the buildings."

An interest in the landmark buildings and structures of the Central Coast is evident in Mayerson's painting titled Templeton Feed and Grain. This iconic piece of Templeton history began construction more than 100 years ago in 1912, and in 1946, Templeton Feed & Grain was founded, according to Paso Magazine.

Mayerson's painting shows off the unique structure in all its wooden glory, playing with shadowy light to make the front of the building pop. The dark, brooding sky above is painted with a mix of blues and purples. In a subtly abstract style, the painting's impressionistic value draws the eye to the places where shadow and light meet on the grand building that Mayerson depicts, literally highlighting this historical institution.

"If you look at a lot of my work, I think the main component that you'll see is buildings, shadows, and light," Mayerson said. "I find that very exciting."

While Mayerson is mainly inspired by human-made structures of the Central Coast, Paz finds herself drawn to more natural elements, such as landscapes and botanicals.

"I have 11 pieces in this exhibit, and I picked those pieces because they run the transition of roughly the last decade, with a heavy emphasis on the last two years," Paz said of the work she chose for Drawn to the Central Coast.

BEAUTIFUL BOTANICALS Tracy Paz's depiction of an agave plant is exceptionally realistic and lifelike. - IMAGE COURTESY OF TRACY PAZ
  • Image Courtesy Of Tracy Paz
  • BEAUTIFUL BOTANICALS Tracy Paz's depiction of an agave plant is exceptionally realistic and lifelike.

Those 11 paintings include some early botanicals—namely agaves that Paz describes as "very out of context, botanical, traditional"—more recent formal landscapes, and some smaller en plein air pieces.

One piece included in the exhibit, titled Agave Gypsophila, displays Paz's ability to create works of exquisite representational detail. The rigid leaves of the agave that Paz depicts twist and curl, and seamless transitions between the shadowy underparts of the leaves to the light-filled crevices on top on the plant result in an exceptionally lifelike piece. Agaves are a native species to California and have an ability to survive desert conditions.

Paz said that her artistic interests in nature drew her to become a member of the San Luis Outdoor Painters for the Environment (SLOPE).

"It's a group of painters who dedicate a couple of shows a year to partner with conservation groups in the area who are working to save endangered land," Paz explained.

"When I first came into SLOPE a couple of years ago, it was just before they did a show on the Highway 46 corridor with the Land Conservancy," she continued. "From 101 to Highway 1 it's just drop-dead gorgeous. So that's an area that draws me hugely." Δ

Arts Writer Malea Martin is drawn to the images of the Central Coast. Send arts story tips to


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