Over the years, many Evergreen artists have said they would like to make our foothills enclave a “Paris in the mountains,” with artists lining the streets painting en plein air and visitors flocking to a place where they can view and purchase quality art. Rather than turning Evergreen into France, a group of newly formed artists is going one step further — bringing France to Evergreen, in their upcoming show “La Belle France” at the Center for the Arts Evergreen Rotary Gallery at Center/Stage.
The group, which is calling itself the Alliance Artists of Evergreen, was formed when watercolor painter Cathy Jones approached a group of fellow artists about staging a show focused on a French theme.
“I had previously visited the Alliance Francaise in Denver, and I contacted them about doing a show in their gallery,” Jones says. “The gallery there is very large, and I knew I could fill it by myself. I sent out an e-mail to a lot of my artist friends. Because the show was to be at the Alliance, it needed to be a show about France.”
Nine local artists committed to the first show, and the Alliance Artists of Evergreen was born. The group created a show that opened at the Alliance Francaise in January. After a successful run, the artists wanted to continue their newfound camaraderie and bring a taste of France to Evergreen.
“Living in the mountains, we paint a lot of mountain scenes, elk and wildflowers. Those are wonderful subjects, but sometimes it’s fun to take on a completely new subject matter. This show is filled with scenes of lavender, the streets of Paris, photographs of beautiful architecture and sculpture in France,” says Jones.
For Jones, the subject wasn’t all that unfamiliar. While majoring in French in college, Jones spent a semester living in Grenoble and Paris, and spent much of her free time roaming the galleries. After college, Jones spent time teaching the French language. Although, she has yet to return to her “second home,” Jones has plans to celebrate an upcoming milestone birthday with her husband in Grenoble.
“I haven’t been able to return to France since college, but the French language and culture are such a part of my life. The country was a natural subject for me when I started painting,” says Jones.
Jones has not always been an artist; however, she has always collected art and admired the work of Georgia O’Keeffe. Then, 10 years ago, she began taking watercolor classes in Denver, and her painting snowballed into a second career.
Now pursuing art full-time, Jones shows her work at Evergreen Gallery, and has surrounded herself with a top-notch group of artists in founding the alliance. The group includes award-winning professional artists Carolyn Campbell, Cathy Jones, Gail Posner, Gale Gatto, Gayle MacDougall, Jane Christie, Jean Widman, Lynne Milliken, Pixie Glore and Rodgers Naylor. Eight of the 10 artists will be showing their work in the “La Belle France” show.
The show opens on March 25 with an opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. at Center/Stage.
“We’re hoping to make it an evening of the arts. We’ll have wine and hors d’oeuvres. Then people can stay for the Evergreen Players’ show ‘The Women of Lockerbie’ or head out to the other galleries for Last Friday Gallery Walk,” says Jones.
The show runs through April 30 at the Rotary Gallery at Center/Stage. For more information, visit www.evergreenarts.org.
Sara Miller, a freelance writer and a resident of Evergreen, lives with her husband, two children and a dog.