Exhibition Runs: April 25 – June 1, 2024
Reception & Artist Talks: Saturday May 18,  4:30pm – 6:30pm 

Artist Talks

We invite you to join us for an exhibition reception and artist talks at Harwood Art Center by the artists of PALs on Saturday, May 18, 2024 with artist talks starting at 5:00pm. This event is free and open to all ages.

Gallery Hours:

Thursday – Saturday, 10am-3pm

Plein Air Collaborations

Plein Air Collaborations demonstrates the inspirational benefits provided by the practice of plein air painting, as well as the significance of group activities to better physical and mental health and creative output. The title of the exhibition, Plein Air Collaborations was selected to highlight the personal growth artists can achieve from working collaboratively. The eight featured artists are Catherine Alleva, Lisa Avila, Ann Blankenship, Anna Escamilla, Connie Falk, Colleen Gregoire, Risa Taylor and Alice Webb.

About PALs

Plein Air Landscapers (PALs) is a group of painting enthusiasts who have enjoyed fellowship and the great outdoors on a weekly basis since 2017. Representing a variety of professional backgrounds and painting experiences, many of the artists are accomplished painters with numerous awards, gallery representation, and individual and group show experience, while others are exploring new boundaries in their painting development. Mentorship is a vital part of the group’s dynamic, and supporting everyone’s creative journey is key. Past shows that the PALs group has participated in are: Gutierrez-Hubbel House 2019, Gallery ABQ 2021, Open Space Visitor Center 2023, Placitas Artist Series 2023, Wild Hearts Gallery 2023, and Gutierrez-Hubbel House 2023.

Artist Statement

“There are vastly different reasons artists chose to paint en plein air; exploring the contours of the landscape, experiencing the changing light, or simply enjoying the challenge of creating a painting while (sometimes) battling the elements of nature. Whether you win or lose the battle with the wind, the gnats or the heat, it is the impression of the landscape that you have captured on canvas that makes the venture worthwhile. Painting en plein air as a group is also beneficial: the comaraderie and support from fellow painters helps each participant grow as an artist.” -PALs 

Catherine Alleva is a New Mexico based artist and ceramist. Her vibrant, contemporary works are painted in acrylics, the medium of her youth. She draws from her career experiences in web development and graphic design to bring her bold perspective to canvas. Inspired by the beauty of nature, Catherine enjoys painting outdoors in a variety of environments. With bright colors and defined brushwork, her paintings evoke a strong sense of place with a touch of whimsy. Catherine’s work has been exhibited at The Gallery ABQ, The New Mexico Art League, The Rio Grande Art Association’s Encantada Exhibition and most recently at the Hawaii Island Art Alliance’s Plein Air Perspectives Exhibition.

Lisa Avila
After a horse industry career in Texas, spanning 30+ years, Lisa found herself making a huge career shift when she became Performing Arts Director of a local gallery/cultural center. Additional part-time employment as an assistant to the gallery director led her to begin painting again and to apply for the Director’s job when the position was vacated, and a new world became her focus. Though an art major in college, it had been years since Lisa had wielded pen or brush, and she was suddenly inspired by the many artists who were part of the gallery where she worked. When she and her husband retired to Placitas during the pandemic, she finally had more time to paint, and the landscape and beauty of her new environs continue to astound and amaze her. She works in acrylics, watercolor and mixed media and dabbles with non-representational abstracts. However, her primary focus is “representational” – whether abstracted or less so. Different subjects lead her down a variety of roads when it comes to style. Her non-representational pieces generally reflect a mood or are a response to an occurrence in her life or the world and her representational work is often inspired by nature. Lisa’s piece “Painted Horse at Sunrise” graced the cover of the 2023 Placitas Studio Tour 36-page brochure; she has participated in that tour for the past two years and is one of the 79 artists in this year’s tour. Her painting “We Ride at Dawn” was one of 9 Honorable Mentions chosen from 73 works submitted for the 2024 Balloon Fiesta Serigraph Poster Contest.

Ann Blankenship was born and raised in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She got her Bachelor of Arts degree from Black Hills State University in Art and Special Education; a Master’s in Education Administration followed. She taught high school art for 30 years. Ann learned to weave and has spent 40 years as a textile artist. Upon retirement, she was introduced to plein air painting and fell in love with the fusion of being outside and the landscapes of New Mexico. Ann has taken classes from Bill Gallen, Natasha Isenhour, Peggy Immel, and Alice Webb. Ann is a member of the local painting group PALS and has exhibited in a number of their shows. The creative process keeps her in the now. Painting in New Mexico has given Ann an opportunity to slow down and really see. Landscapes, color, and canvas while being outside is pure joy. Ann is also represented by the Jemez Fine Arts Gallery.

Anna Escamilla’s love of drawing started in the 7th grade when she realized she could draw. Anna took classes at the community colleges and continued to do art while working and raising a family. Anna started her painting journey in oil, but works in acrylics as well. Anna loves the outdoors and plein-air painting has become something she looks forward to doing. The New Mexico landscape provides a variety of beautiful and stark landscapes. Anna looks forward to her weekly outings with the PALS plein-air painting group and learning from these wonderful people. It has been challenging learning how to deal with weather related issues compared to working in the studio.  Anna has started to explore some abstract and mixed media pieces and working on combining drawing and painting as she tends to lean towards a representational style of work.  Anna retired in 2022 and now has the time and freedom to see what she can accomplish. The sky is the limit and she is still working on her style as an artist.

Connie Falk enjoys painting in oils and focuses most of her efforts on the local landscape. Painting in plein air is a particular passion, as it combines sharing adventures with good friends and carefully observing the effects of changing seasons on light, color and form. In 2022, Connie was included in Southwest Art Magazine’s, “10 NM Painters to Watch.” In 2024, 18 of Connie’s paintings were rented by the movie “Miss You, Love You” and she was commissioned to paint an additional 3 paintings, including one partially finished that the star Allison Janney “finished” in the movie. Connie has called New Mexico home since 1988 when she began her academic career in agricultural economics at New Mexico State University. While on the faculty, she began taking art classes at NMSU in 2004, and continued taking classes until 2013 when she retired. She is a regular participant in the Placitas Studio Tour on Mother’s Day weekend, and in 2023 she was juried into the upcoming Corrales Studio Tour held the weekend before the Placitas Studio Tour in May.

Colleen Zacharias Gregoire grew up in the Midwest, and studied drawing and painting privately before receiving her MFA in painting from the University of Kansas, where she began a life-long love for the local landscape plein air.  She has taught art and art history at the college level, as well as teaching youth and adults through local arts centers. She relocated to Placitas, NM in the fall of 2020, and immersed herself into the local arts scene. Her work has been exhibited in numerous galleries throughout the Midwest. She currently is involved with the Placitas Library Art Committee, the Wild Hearts Gallery in Placitas, and is the editor for the RGAA Palette newsletter. Embracing the landscape and architecture of New Mexico, Gregoire has enjoyed new-found inspiration for her oils and watercolor paintings. 

Risa Taylor dreamed of being an artist and has eagerly painted towards that goal on most days of the last seven years.  Much of her work is started in Plein Air and finished in her home studio. Both oil and acrylic paints are used to create dynamic, color filled canvases that convey the strength of her relationship with New Mexico’s landscapes and its spectacularly grand vistas. Risa’s truth is that she loves every part of the process of painting New Mexico.  Her work is frequently included in local and regional art events and is forever grateful that her paintings are being enjoyed in collectors’ homes throughout the United States. Risa was named as “A Local Treasure” by ABQ ART Business Association is one of my proudest moments.

Alice Webb is a life-long artist, teacher and learner, Alice Webb has both a BFA and a MA in Art Education from the University of New Mexico where she graduated with Honors. Webb, who lived in Taos from 1973 until 1990 where she worked along-side many notable artists and studied with Fritz Scholder. “I like to think that I grew up as an artist in Taos”, says Webb.  During the mid 90’s Webb taught classes and workshops to children and adults at numerous non-’profits in Santa Fe and Albuquerque including the Harwood Art Center. From 2003 until 2018 she taught art for Albuquerque Public schools and in the Art Ed department at UNM. In 2016 Webb was named an Albuquerque Art Treasure and this year her work was chosen by New Mexico magazine for publication in their annual calendar.  Alice Webb has painted the South West for over forty years and her landscapes and abstracts have been exhibited nationally and internationally and are in numerous public, private and corporate collections.