Relocating to the Newburyport area didn't just mean a new address for artists Pete Meehan and Peggy Luderer. It meant all new surroundings to draw from for their paintings.
Meehan and Luderer spotlight their new locales in a joint show titled "Changing Scenery" that's opening today in Laura Coombs Hills Gallery at the Newburyport Art Association, 65 Water St., Newburyport.
Their exhibit is one of more than a dozen that will be featured in the next Newburyport ArtWalk gallery tour set for Saturday in and around downtown. The free, self-guided walking tour goes from 3 to 7 p.m.
"Changing Scenery" reflects the inspiration Meehan and Luderer say they have each found in moving to the region — with Meehan settling in Seabrook after spending 20 years in the mountains of Maine and Luderer's extensive travels bringing her to West Newbury. The award-winning artists use the architecture and landscape they have encountered as subjects for their paintings.
Meehan, a fine arts graduate of Rowan University in New Jersey, has been painting landscapes in oils since age 16. He spends one to three days on location, working quickly and loosely with no preliminary drawing on the canvas, then fine-tunes his pieces back in his studio to an almost photo realistic effect.
"There's something very invigorating being right there in the middle of the scene I am painting," he says in his artist's statement. "I do paint in a realistic, detailed manner, which brings out the texture and feel of the rocks, trees, water, etc. I look to evoke a strong composition and a sense of timelessness in my work."
Meehan's paintings have been selected for exhibit in many juried shows throughout New England, and has won several Best of Show honors in Newburyport, Marblehead and Maine.
Luderer, whose husband's business has taken her to nine states as well as Switzerland, says moving frequently has provided her with many rich and varied changes of scenery. She especially loves painting architecture as it relates to people and the surrounding landscape. Drawn to the New England light, she says she is inspired by a sunny day and the way objects are defined by the light and shadows. She typically paints from photos she takes, often combining elements from several shots in her compositions.
A graduate of DePauw University in Indiana with a bachelor's in art, the mother of three became hooked on watercolors 13 years ago, but also paints in oil. She is currently a docent at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and has also worked as an interior decorator. She has won awards at the Newburyport Art Association for the last four years.
An opening reception for "Changing Scenery" takes place tomorrow from 7 to 9 p.m. The exhibit runs through Sept. 5.
Art lovers will have plenty more to admire on Saturday's gallery tour in Newburyport. Many of the venues are planning special exhibitions and offering demonstrations, entertainment and refreshments.
Here's what else will be found along the route:
Bridge Gallery, 1R Water St.: "Summer Visions," featuring paintings by gallery artists Danielle Gauthier McCarthy and Barbara Burns, as well as works by the cooperative gallery's 14 other artists. Classical guitarist Donna Ricci will play from 3 to 5 p.m.
Alan Bull Gallery, 18 Graf Road: Alan Bull will be showing off his figure studies in oils and pastels, recent monotypes of Dogtown and new watercolor sketches of animals at the Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm in Newbury.
Chameleon, 18 Liberty St.: Spotlight on Joan Kocak of Concord, who combines her love for watercolor painting and photography into her images, which are inspired by the seasons and landscapes of New England. Also, pieces by glass artist Mary Crockett as well as works by Marcia Hermann, Gordon Przybyla, Jeremy Barnard, Julia Purinton and more.
The Churchill Gallery, 6 Inn St.: Acrylic and gold-leaf works by Jim Seitz as well as works by the gallery's roster of artists.
Connor Summers Gallery, 48 Market St.: "Summer 2010" exhibit featuring the paintings of Jim Mickelson, including many seascapes of Rockport and Newburyport from the 1960s to the 1980s, as well as works by Jon Kodwyck and Cathy Connor.
Indigo Artist Studio, 53 Middle St.: New oil bar landscapes by Lillian Coolidge and monotypes from Mary Pollak's Water Garden series. Maria Malatesta will also be a guest at the studio with her exhibition "Stripes."
Spirit of Newburyport, 1 Inn St.: Jon-William Brown celebrates the grand opening of his new studio and art cart kiosk on Inn Street with an open house. Special guest Newburyport author Jean Doyle will sign copies of her new book, "Life in Newburyport: 1950 to 1985," from 3 to 5 p.m. Free greeting cards and bookmarks featuring Williams' "Market Square Summer" image, which graces the "Life in Newburyport" book jacket, will be available while supplies last.
The other stops on Saturday's tour are the Firehouse Center for the Arts, Market Square; Lepore Fine Arts, 58 Merrimac St.; Nantucket Stock Exchange Too, 117 Water St.; Sisters We Three, 57 Pleasant St.; Somerby's Landing Sculpture Park, Newburyport waterfront; Sweethaven Studio, 25 Inn St.; Valerie's Gallery, 26 State St.; and The Walsingham Gallery, 47 Merrimac St.
Admission to all the galleries is free. Brochures and maps to guide tour-goers are available at the participating galleries as well as the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce & Industry, 38R Merrimac St., and elsewhere in the city.
The final ArtWalk of 2010 is planned for Oct. 23. For more, visit www.newburyportartwalk.com or http://artwalknewburyport.blogspot.com.