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'Paso Purples' is an oil on canvas by Erin Hanson, on display at Studios on the Park in Paso Robles.

'Moments Of Beauty'

October 21, 2012 - The Tribune, F2

By Monica Fiscalini

Did you spend last weekend touring artists' studios across San Luis Obispo County for hte Open Studios Art Tour? I hope so! My plan was to hitch a ride to Paso Robles with my parents to pick up their wine club shipment and then visit a few North County studios.

The SLO County Arts Council sponsored event continues through today. If you didn't pick up the printed guide, visit www.artsobispo.org/openstudios.php for a downloadable version or for instructions for finding the iPhone app.

The tour is free and it's a rare opportunity to buy directly from artists and see how their surroundings inspire them. My sole "OSAT" purchase goes back to 2000. It's a watercolor of Highway 46 West by Merle Bassett. I don't remember getting his back story the day I visited his Cambria home, but I learned recently that he was a fashion illustrator before retiring. His mid-century work reminds me of something I'd see in ad campaigns on TV's "Mad Men." And these days his preferred medium is photography.

Something drew me to that Highway 46 painting. Probably the same thing that made me buy a poster of David Hockney's "Pear-blossom Hwy" photo collage. What that something is, I'm not exactly sure, but Erin Hanson has put the same bit of highway magic in many of her oil paintings on exhibit at Studios on the Park in Paso Robles.

Her landscapes convey my imagining of the best Sunday drive ever. The 30-year-old Burbank artist explains in exhibit materials: "I have been painting Paso Robles as passionately as I have painted Utah and Arizona. I return several times a year to get re-inspired, always amazed at the seasonal landscape changes, and always seeking out those little moments of beauty that are hidden away from the bustle of everyday life."

The colors and textures of her mountains, fields and back roads deserve a look.

In a fun instance of synchronicity, members of the Paso Robles Art Association are highlighting "Urban & Rural Roads" through Nov. 11 in the Showroom Gallery at Studios on the Park.

While i've got you thinking about scenic drives, consider a Cambria trip before the end of the month for the Cambria Scarecrow Festival. The Willie Nelson scarecrow in front of the Cambria Historical Society will chase away the blues along with any crows. The more than 200 registered entries are fun, surprising, artsy, and around every corner.