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SATURDAY: Opening Reception for Monique Carr’s ‘Plein Air Fragrances’ Solo Show

“What I love most about painting outdoors is the fragrance of the air; it brings me joy and inspiration,” says plein air artist Monique Carr.

Carr has a solo show of 22 new Impressionist oils at Alta Vista Gallery in Valle Crucis, hanging now through Nov. 14.

This Saturday, October 22, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the artist will be at the gallery’s opening reception to greet the public. The event is free, and refreshments will be served.

An award-winning painter, Carr named her show “Plein Air Fragrances” because all 22 oils were painted outdoors, or from plein air studies.

“I like that title,” says Carr, “because it sounds French, and since I’m French-Canadian, it works perfectly. Also, when you’re in an art studio, the smell is not appealing, due to the turps, oils, vanish, etc., so when I’m in my studio, I remember the fragrances of each place I visited. I hope to transmit this sense of ‘fresh’ air in my paintings.

“Plein air painting also helps me to see better than working from photos, because it increases my awareness and appreciation of the beauty in nature.”

Even the titles of Carr’s new paintings seem to entice the sense of smell (and maybe taste), such as: “Cranberry Chutney,” and “Marmalade Sunrise,” and “Cinnamon Blues.” Subjects include: waterfalls and rivers, mountains, valleys, and a variety of flowers.

The show is painted in Carr’s signature style of loose, Modern Impressionism with a bold color palette. Carr often uses oil paints like watercolors for transparency, yet adds texture using palette-knives at the end of the process.

Carr grew up in Montreal, Canada, and was a graphic artist for 25 years before becoming a fulltime painter in 2009. She now paints daily and also teaches art classes, where she tells students to be constantly thinking while they paint―thinking about composition, harmony, colors, movement, texture, and evoking the emotion of the scene.

“I’m so grateful to do what I love, and I thank God for that,” says Carr.

“My focus in painting is to translate something ordinary into an artistic whimsical statement. That’s why an exclamation mark is hidden in each painting. That’s my trademark. It’s a symbol of surprise or joy, and that’s what I want viewers to feel in my paintings.”

Alta Vista Gallery owner Maria Santomasso-Hyde says that customers do seem to feel joy when viewing Carr’s work. “Maybe that’s why we sell so many of her paintings. People want to feel that joy at home too! It must be addictive, because when someone buys a Carr painting, they often return to buy more of them.”

Alta Vista Gallery is located minutes from Boone, Blowing Rock, and Banner Elk, in a National Register historic farmhouse at 2839 Broadstone Road, Historic Valle Crucis―between Mast Farm Inn and Mast Store Annex. (For GPS, use Banner Elk zip code, 28604.)

For a map and directions to the gallery, and to see some of the art, visit www.AltaVistaGallery.com.

To see more of the art, visit the gallery’s page on Facebook. For more info, call the gallery at (828) 963-5247.

Alta Vista Gallery shows more than 100 artists in various mediums, including oil, watercolor, pastels, prints, stained glass, art tiles, and Mangum Pottery.

Saturday’s event is part of the “Tour d’Art,” which is held every fourth Saturday from June through November. Brochure maps for the tour are at Alta Vista Gallery and at the other stops on the tour.

The gallery’s Nov. 26 event will be its Annual Christmas Open House, featuring small paintings that could be given as gifts. The gallery will have Christmas décor and homemade refreshments.