For Immediate Release: Coming soon: Plein-air exhibition featuring newly painted & historic works documenting the San Diego Region

Escondido, California — :

This spring, three nonprofits will come together to present a plein-air art exhibition that highlights the beauty and history of the San Dieguito River Valley. Titled “Second Spring–Conserving Nature in Life and Art,” the exhibition will take place April 5-27 at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido and feature historic works from public and private museum collections as well as freshly-painted pieces created by nationally known artists and members of Plein-Air Painters of America.

Under the banner of the Art in Nature Alliance, the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy (SDRVC), the Plein-Air Painters of America (PAPA) and the California Center for the Arts, Escondido (the Center) will host 20 plein-air artists who will, over the course of a week, paint outdoors in the San Dieguito watershed in San Diego County, capturing the beautiful flora and fauna that inhabit the 55-mile-long river valley that stretches from the mountains to the coast.

The fresh-from-the-field art will then be hung in the museum galleries at the Center and the “wet-paint exhibition” will be unveiled at a ticketed opening gala on April 5, followed by the official opening to the general public on April 6.

The purpose of the project is to inspire interest and appreciation for nature through the tradition of plein-air painting. Taken from the French expression “en plein air,” which means “in the open air,” plein-air painting takes artists outside to create their works on location, fully immersed in their subject. “Second Spring” will allow Southern California residents to enjoy and bond with their local landscape through the eyes of three generations of artists. Concluding April 27, the exhibition will run through the official countywide celebration of Earth Day, resonating with and reinforcing April’s theme of preserving the natural world.

“We are pleased to be partnering with two environmentally-conscious organizations that recognize not only the beauty in nature but also its inherent value to society and the importance of its conservation,” said Bob Will, Center board member and museum committee chair. “Working together under the banner of the Art in Nature Alliance, we will strive to foster a renewed passion to experience and protect the stunning landscape San Diego County residents are lucky to call home.”

The show will also serve as a fundraiser for the conservancy, as 35 percent of the purchase price of the freshly-painted canvases will be a tax-deductible contribution to the SDRVC. These paintings will first be available for purchase during a ticketed opening gala at the Center on April 5.

“This is not only our first wet-paint show in ten years, it is also PAPA’s first opportunity to commit its expertise in the field to a nonprofit dedicated to the land that inspires us to create,” said PAPA President and exhibition participant Gil Dellinger. “All of our hearts and skills will be poured into our paintings, and a portion of the proceeds from their sales will benefit the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy. This is a win-win partnership that we are honored to be a part of.”

SDRVC Board Member Chris Khoury explained that the organization wanted to work with PAPA members because of the group’s reputation for interacting with nature one-on-one and creating paintings that remind viewers that every day is Earth Day.

“We wanted to develop a fundraiser that would call attention to nature’s beauty and diversity,” Khoury said, “as well as the importance of preserving our natural environment.”

Exploring Art in Nature: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

There are several exciting components to “Second Spring.” Three exhibitions in one, the show explores the past, present and future of the San Diego landscape:

Contemporary Painters: Twenty PAPA members, hailing from all across the country, will spend several days painting on location in the San Dieguito River Valley watershed, documenting the area from an early 21st-century perspective. Subject matter will include the coast from La Jolla to Encinitas, as well as the River Valley from the coast at the lagoon to the crest of Volcan Mountain. Their plein-air paintings, as well as studio works derived from field studies, will comprise more than 100 paintings for sale in the contemporary exhibition.

Early Artists: A complementary exhibition of more than 50 artworks from private and public collections by early California impressionist painters will document the San Diego area in the early 20th century. Among the featured artists are Maurice Braun (1877-1941), Charles Reiffel (1862-1942), Charles A. Fries (1854-1940) and Alfred R. Mitchell (1888-1972).

Plein-Air Painters of Tomorrow: The California Center for the Arts, Escondido will coordinate with local schools and art education organizations to provide schoolchildren the opportunity to observe nature by making paintings of it in the outdoors and to exhibit their work.

Opening Weekend Events

The opening weekend of “Second Spring” will offer an opportunity to learn about the interaction of art and nature and to acquire paintings by the top artists in the field, as well as to contribute to SDRVC projects. Tickets are available through the SDRVC at (858) 755-6956.

Saturday, April 5

  • 5 p.m. – The Art of Looking at Art, a visual presentation by Jean Stern, Director of the Irvine Museum
  • 6 p.m. – Exhibition Opening Gala and Sale (Ticketed Event: $100 per person)

Sunday, April 6

  • 1 to 4 p.m. – Exhibition opens to the general public (Regular museum admission: $8)

More details about “Second Spring” and accompanying events and lectures will be released in the weeks ahead.

About the Collaborating Organizations (the Art in Nature Alliance)

The San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy (SDRVC)

The San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy (, established in 1986, is a nonprofit with a membership of about 1,000. Its mission is to preserve, protect and share the natural and cultural resources of the San Dieguito River Valley through collaborative efforts to acquire lands, complete trails, restore habitats, establish educational programs, create interpretive centers, encourage recreation, and mobilize public support. The conservancy works closely with the San Dieguito River Park, established in 1989, in adding to the 60,000 protected acres within the 55-mile-long river valley, and completing its signature Coast to Crest Trail.

The Plein-Air Painters of America (PAPA)

The Plein-Air Painters of America ( is a small group of accomplished professionals who are dedicated to painting on-location. Since organizing in 1986 to exhibit wet-paint artworks in Avalon on Catalina Island, PAPA has put plein-air painting on the national stage, spawning seedlings that have flourished across the country. PAPA members are committed to the historic tradition of working directly from life and to striving to more fully explore and respond to the timeless beauty that surrounds us all. PAPA members exemplify excellence in vision and craftsmanship and actively share that knowledge by exhibiting in the finest museums across the nation.



About the California Center for the Arts, Escondido 

A 501(c)3 charitable organization, the Center’s creation was sparked by a civic vision—one that recognized the vital role that the arts play in strengthening and uniting the community. Our commitment to enriching lives and improving access to the arts, especially for low-income individuals and families, is exemplified through our extensive educational programming and robust series of free community events. The Center is guided by an enthusiastic Board of Trustees and passionate staff who are dedicated to furthering arts education and access, and to creating programs that provide cultural enrichment for residents of North County and beyond.

You can join this inspiring mission by becoming a donor.  Visit or email to start a conversation about how you or your company can make a difference right here and right now in your arts community.


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