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Gary Blackwell of Long Beach works on his painting of models Nesenia Gonzalez, in orange, and Brenda Coronado from Ballet Folklorico Cachanilla as part of the Plein Air Quick-Draw event.

Elliot Krames, 2, of Paso Robles works on her tile painting in the festival’s Children’s Art Zone.

During the festival, Cambria artist Shirley Pittman works on a painting of Park Cinemas from the back of her car.

Creativity flows at festival in Paso: Art highlights Salinas River

May 24, 2009 - The San Luis Obispo Telegram Tribune, A1

By Tonya Strickland

Paso Robles celebrated arts and the environment during the first Festival of the Arts on Saturday, with more than 60 artist exhibits in Downtown City Park.

Titled “Follow the River, Paint the Dream,” the festival tied in city plans to add shopping and recreation along the Salinas River. The pieces in the show were all tied to the river.

There was a Plein Air Quick Draw and Auction, followed by a fine art exhibition, art demonstrations, a public mural project, hands-on children’s art classrooms, live music and performances and an afternoon concert.

Free scenic educational tours of the Salinas River Corridor were given throughout the day. Assistant City Manager Meg Williamson said the tours were surprisingly full most of the day.

“It’s nice to see artists supporting the environment and nature providing the muse,” she said.

Denise Schryver, a pastel landscapes artist in Atascadero, described the event as “magnificent,” noting that usually she doesn’t display at festivals — preferring to show at galleries — but was impressed by what Paso Robles put together.

She said she had sold one painting at the event and had serious interest in another.

The event was co-sponsored by the city and Studios on the Park, a nonprofit endeavor downtown where people can walk through workspaces as artists create their work.