Miniatures and Impressions on Display at Tulare Historical Museum

Wanda Cottengim, Mae Reuter and Donna Coleman are three of the local artists with entries in the Miniatures exhibit, currently on display at the Tulare Historical Museum. The exhibit contains work donated as a fundraiser for the museum. Nancy Vigran/Valley Voice

The Tulare Historical Museum rings in the New Year with two art exhibitions – Miniatures, and Tulare County: Varied Impressions.

For the 9th annual Miniatures exhibition, 23 local artisans have donated 55 pieces as a fundraiser for the museum and its mission to preserve Tulare’s history. This exhibition is currently on display and runs through March 11, with visitors able to purchase tickets for a chance to win one or more of their favorite original works. For entry, the Miniatures must be 7” x 9” or smaller and are created in watercolor, oil, pastels or any medium the artists prefer.

This is the first year entering for Visalian Mae Reuter, who started with art upon retirement. She knew she wanted to work with watercolors. She also works in pencil.

“I bought books was before I got a brush,” she said.

And now, with experience under her belt, she has produced some pieces specifically for the Miniatures show.

“This is a fun kind of art,” she said, “it’s looser – fast, easy and fun.”

Donna Coleman sits with her Impressions painting, “Wading the South Fork,” entered in the museum’s exhibit which opens January 12. Nancy Vigran/Valley Voice

Reuter’s friend, Donna Coleman agreed that producing for the Miniatures show takes less time than her regular paintings. She is a regular artist for the show, having entered two pieces this year.

Coleman has been painting for 20 years and enjoys working with watercolor and pastels. She generally works on larger pieces, but hasn’t found working the smaller format being too different.

Wanda Cottengim of Tulare has been painting since the 1970s. She started with oil and “graduated” to watercolor.

“I love color,” she said, which is expressed in her work.

A longtime contributor to the Miniatures show, as well as Impressionists, and others, Cottengim enjoys painting still life and flowers. Through the years, her family moved around the country quite a bit with her husband’s work, and she took classes everywhere she went. She admits to slowing down some, but still enjoys entering in local shows.

Wanda Cottengim has entered her Persimmons watercolor in the Tulare County: Varied Impressions show, which will run through February 25.

All three ladies paint at home as well as in regular group meetings. They find working within a group continues to help them grow, each said. Cottengim is a member of the Tulare Palette Club – Reuter and Coleman are active in the Visalia Art League – and all three are active with Arts Visalia.

Reuter’s said she entered the Miniatures show because she wanted to see her work “hang on another wall [than those at home].”

“It’s like anything you are proud of,” Coleman said of entering her work, “it’s an accomplishment.”

The artists admit to enjoying the competition and opening themselves up for constructive evaluation of their work. However, Coleman said, artists are usually very self-critical. Cottengim admits to never being completely happy with everything.

“I will not sign [a piece] until it’s done, and then I will not touch it again,” Reuter said.

Coleman said she will still touch up her art, after signing.

Every artist is different, they all agreed. And each of these artists vividly remembers their favorite piece.
For Reuters, it was a commissioned piece of a huge statue in Tulsa, OK. It was a gift from someone who was retiring to his boss, she said.

“I had never painted a statue before,” she said. “It is a very large piece and hangs on wood paneling in his [the boss’] office. I did him [the commissioner] proud, I think.”

Mae Reuter stands with her Miniatures entry, “Bubble Gum Pink Pig” at the Tulare Historical Museum. The exhibit contains work donated as a fundraiser for the museum.

For Coleman, she said her painting which was the most emotional was one of her dad, who has passed away. A favorite, because of her work involved, was of a horse in harness with a misty background.

And, for Cottengim, her favorite was painted many years ago, she said. It depicted an old building that was falling down with three rusted cars. She sold it, she said, but has repainted it three times, and has kept one of her renditions.

Both Coleman and Cottengim also have work entered in the 13th annual Tulare County: Varied Impressions show, which opens with an artists’ reception on Tuesday, January 12. Entries for this show must represent Tulare County, or the City of Tulare. Coleman’s watercolor in the show is a view of South Fork in Three Rivers. Cottengim’s is one of an Exeter persimmon orchard near the end of the season.

There are 36 entries in the Impressions show, which is a non-judged show. Each artist is limited to one entry. The show runs through February 25. Most pieces are available for purchase.

Tickets for the Miniatures drawing are $5 for one and $10 for three entries. With 55 entries to choose from, there is some artwork for most anyone’s taste, including still life, birds, cats, horses, flowers, shells, barns, trucks and farm equipment, and much more.

All art exhibitions in the Heritage Art Gallery of the museum are open to the public and free. The museum is open to the public Thursdays through Saturdays from 10am – 4pm.

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