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AUBURN

Even though you've seen it for yourself as you walk and drive through the local countryside, you'll see the "Upstate Landscape" through 12 fresh sets of eyes when the Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center unveils a fine art exhibit featuring local landscape drawings, paintings, pastels and photographs by regional artists.

"Upstate Landscape" opens at 10 a.m. today, at the art center at 205 Genesee St. On exhibit are more than 70 majestic scenes from the Finger Lakes by area artists Chris Baker, Lawrence Barone, Tom Champion, Henry Drexler, Tom Gardner, Don Grieger, Brian Hart, Tom Hussey, Karen Kucharski, Gregory Lawler, Mary Padgett and John Thompson.

The exhibit explores both innovative and conventional approaches to the traditional genre of landscape painting. Ithaca artist Karen Kucharski's striking charcoal drawings of local waterfalls provide a powerful contrast of the soft, detailed gouache paintings of Weedsport artist Chris Baker. Mary Padgett, a Syracuse pastel artist, offers paintings of her recent travels in Europe, with vibrant studies of the Irish countryside, while Utica painter Gregory Lawler's work is effective in its use of bold, bright colors, illustrating the natural environment of Central New York. Each of the 12 participating artists contributes a unique and engaging body of work collectively creating an excellent exhibit.

Emerging area artists

"We wanted to feature a representation of fine arts based in the Finger Lakes area," said Art Center Executive Director Donna Lamb. "Every year we do a variety of exhibitions and we felt we needed another traditional painting show. Our contemporary realism show last year was a success and there were many area artists we could not include in that show, so we thought we would feature landscape painting from upstate New York.

"One of the missions of the Art Center is to provide opportunities to emerging regional artists, and this show is part of our ongoing mission," Lamb said. "Some artists included in this show are familiar to the area, others are new, from the Corning and Rochester area. We've also included Tom Champion, Tom Hussey and Chris Baker of Cayuga County, they're all extremely talented artists. The Finger Lakes area is phenomenally beautiful, the natural beauty of the area brings out the best in landscape painters and I have selected a number of pieces that feature the various lakes and vineyards of the region."

One of the artists featured, Chris Baker, teaches art at Cato-Meridian High School. His landscape artistry is in gaouche, an opaque watercolor. Baker holds a master of fine arts from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

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'Very local paintings'

"My paintings are very local, right in Cayuga County," Baker said. "The Schweinfurth is the finest outlet for this area, and that extends to Rochester also. The Art Center gives local and regional artists like myself an opportunity to exhibit our work in a beautiful setting."

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Auburn landscape artist Tom Hussey's paintings grace the walls of Matthew House, a hospice home recently opened on Metcalf Drive. Hussey's work can also be seen at Auburn Memorial City Hall, but his exhibit at the Schweinfurth holds a special meaning to him.

"I am pleased to be included in a group of talented artists represented in the 'Upstate Landscape' exhibit," Hussey said. "After decades of overlooking at landscape as a quaint genre, the art world seems to be recognizing it for what it is: a legitimate form of artistic expression tied to a rich history that remains vibrant and alive today. The range of scenery and weather in our region will always fuel the creativity of artists and the admiration of those of us fortunate enough to live in Central New York."

Included among Hussey's oil paintings will be four spontaneous impressions painted on location and one studio piece based on a field painting.

Spontaneous or studied, these dynamic dozen leave no doubt: Central New York looks spectacular.

To reach Staff Writer Jane Stebbins, call 253-5311, Ext. 245.

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