GOLDENDALE, WASHINGTON — Portland-area painter and art instructor Janie Lowe was recently selected as the winner of the Friends of the Columbia Gorge Award in the 2022 Pacific Northwest Plein Air in the Columbia Gorge at the Maryhill Museum of Art. Lowe’s winning oil painting (“Westcliff Glow”) — a piece capturing a summer sunset in the Gorge from a vantage near Westcliff Lodge — was one of several Gorge plein air paintings recognized by Maryhill and partner organizations.
The National Scenic Area Award went to Cathleen Rehfeld, Hood River, for Columbia Gorge Overlook at The Griffin House. Other Gorge-area artists receiving awards were Yer Vue (Corbett, third place, Overall Competition), Hills to the Heavens; and Susan Elwart Hall (Camas, honorable mention, Overall Competition), Golden Queens.
“I will never forget painting ‘Westcliff Glow;’ it wasn’t just plein air painting, it was adventure painting,” said Lowe. “Another artist attending the plein air event, Jeff Markowsky, and I wanted to paint a sunset over the Columbia. We thought the winds would die down as it became dusk, but they seemed to get stronger. But with weighted easels from our backpacks and large stones around the feet, we continued on, battling the 30-40 mph winds and sun glare.”
Aaron Cordell Johnson of Moscow, Idaho, was selected as the Friends Award runner-up for his gouache painting, “My Favorite Basalt,” depicting Hat Rock in the East Gorge at dusk, and Yong Hong Zhong of Lake Oswego, Ore., was selected as second runner-up for his watercolor, “Shallow Waterhole,” capturing shimmering water on a summer day. Celeste Bergin of Portland, Ore., was additionally recognized as an honorable mention for her oil painting, “All That I Can Say,” of Crown Point.
The works will be displayed at Maryhill through Aug. 27.
Chosen from more than 100 entries, the Friends’ Award-winning paintings by Lowe, Cordell Johnson, Zhong, and Bergin were selected by a special Friends’ judging team (Kassy Delgado, Friends’ community engagement specialist; Melissa Gonzalez, Friends’ outdoor programs and communications specialist; and Natalie Yap, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, community space coordinator) as “best illustrating and celebrating the natural beauty and sense of wonder of the Columbia Gorge,” said a Friends press release.
For her winning painting, Lowe will receive a $250 cash prize. Cordell Johnson and Zhong will both receive a $100 runner-up cash prize. All three artists will receive a complimentary one-year Friends gift membership and their paintings will be featured in an upcoming Friends’ print newsletter and blog article.
“We are pleased to continue our collaboration with Friends of the Columbia Gorge,” said Steve Grafe, curator of art at Maryhill. “Friends and Maryhill are both Gorge-focused and we agree that responsible and visionary management of the region is advantageous to both local residents and those who travel from near and far to experience its unique natural and cultural wonders.”