ASTORIA - What do Paul Newman, Julia Roberts, Mel Gibson, the Ninja Turtles and the Watercolor Society of Oregon have in common? Give up? Well, they've all visited Astoria. The Watercolor Society of Oregon convened in Astoria 10 years ago, and now hundreds of watercolor artists from all over Oregon will once again converge on this historic coastal town for the WSO Fall Convention Oct. 4-6.

The highlight of the three-day conference will be the opening of the WSO's 37th Annual Transparent Watercolor Show at RiverSea Gallery on Saturday, Oct. 5, with a reception from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. This exhibit of 80 paintings by 80 WSO members has been juried by Dale Laitenen, a nationally known watercolor artist from California. The show will be exhibited at RiverSea Gallery through Oct. 30, after which the top twenty award winning paintings will tour Oregon for six months.

Other activities scheduled for the group include painting-on-location sessions with Eric Wiegardt, art workshops and lectures, along with tours of the Columbia River and the downtown Historic District. Awards for the top twenty paintings in the exhibit will be announced at a membership Awards Banquet to be held Saturday night at the Red Lion Inn.    Dale Laitinen, the juror for the 37th Annual Transparent Watercolor Show, is a nationally recognized watercolor artist best known for his paintings of the mountains and deserts of the Western United States. He graduated from San Jose State University in 1975 with a degree in Fine Art, and is a signature member of the National Watercolor Society and Watercolor West. He has been featured several times in The Artist's Magazine and Watercolor Magic and his paintings have been featured in Splash 1, 3 & 4 published by North Light Books and The Transparent Watercolor Wheel. He has written several articles about his painting technique and is widely sought as a teacher.

Founded in 1966, the Watercolor Society of Oregon is a statewide organization of 773 active members. Members are juried into the WSO by a selection committee based on the quality of their work. The primary activities of the organization are holding exhibitions of members' work and providing educational opportunities, both for the members and others interested in the creation and appreciation of the visual arts.

WSO sponsors two competitions each year, in the fall and in the spring. The annual fall show is limited to transparent watercolor media only. Members are invited to submit paintings to be juried by a nationally recognized artist. Eighty paintings are chosen for each show and twenty paintings that the judge deems to be outstanding are selected to receive awards. The award-winning paintings are exhibited in a six-month traveling show.

RiverSea Gallery is located at 1160 Commercial Street in downtown Astoria. The gallery exhibits local and regional artists in all media. Exhibits change every four to six weeks. Regular business hours are Monday through Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  

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