PaintOut Project showing at VAC

“August Fog,” by Jeanne Chamberlain, is part of an exhibition called “A Public Treasure: Painting the Oregon Coast: Four Decades of the Sandgren PaintOut Project.” It is showing in the Runyan Gallery at the Newport Visual Arts Center. (Courtesy photo)

The Oregon Coast Council for the Arts is showing the exhibition, “A Public Treasure: Painting the Oregon Coast: Four Decades of the Sandgren PaintOut Project,” through Sept. 29 in the Runyan Gallery at the Newport Visual Arts Center.

This collection of paintings includes more than 40 artists exhibiting in excess of 50 works portraying the dramatic and publically owned Oregon coastline from Brookings to Astoria.

“A Public Treasure: Four Decades of Painting the Oregon Coast” has been drawn from an annual pilgrimage of painters — the Sandgren PaintOut. Started in 1978 by Nelson Sandgren, who taught classes in watercolor and other media at Oregon State University from 1948 to 1986, the Sandgren PaintOut has continued under the direction of his son, Erik Sandgren, since 2004.

Led by Nelson or Erik, the PaintOut project has ventured to the Oregon coast each summer for more than 40 years. Professional and developing painters take classes in watercolor and paint the coastline plein air using various media. The new exhibition at the VAC recognizes the significant creative and cultural contributions of Nelson and Erik Sandgren and their fellow “PaintOut” participants in celebrating the Oregon coast in all its changing grandeur.

“A Public Treasure: Painting the Oregon Coast” was developed through a juried-review process, with more than 175 works submitted by current and former PaintOut participants. Erik Sandgren, Tom Webb, OCCA’s VAC director, and Sandra Roumagoux, a Newport-based painter who studied under Nelson Sandgren, served as the exhibit jurors.

“Over the decades, the format and name of the PaintOut has evolved. Its heart, however, remains the goal of painting with a fluency that belies an underlying pictorial integrity,” said Erik Sandgren. “On a spectrum from strongly abstract to rather naturalistic, these nature- inspired paintings create equivalents in form for the freshness of coastal experience.”

“The exhibit should have the feel of walking the Oregon coastline, visually, from Brookings to Astoria,” said Webb. “We are here to celebrate the creativity of the painters, the coastline itself, and the fact that the Oregon coast is owned by its citizens.”

“PaintOut Project participants represent the entire Oregon coast and convey coastal living: lighthouses, harbors, headlands, changing weather, boats and bridges, roads and beaches, headlands, wetlands and tide flats, estuaries and cliffs, forests, trees, snags drift­wood, state parks, middens and mountains, birds and creatures,” said Erik Sandgren. “They look for familiar coastal subject matter visually structured into things of beauty and formal merit.”

“‘A Public Treasure’ is a foundational part of ‘Art 363: Representing the Oregon Coast,’ the VAC’s artistic celebration of the Oregon coast during August and September,” said Webb. “The group of artists and paintings included is just a small representation of what the PaintOut group has achieved over 40 years.”

The Runyan Gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Newport Visual Arts Center is located at 777 NW Beach Drive.