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A breath of plein air 

Baywood's new art gallery caters to outdoor painters

click to enlarge PAINTERLY LADY :  The newly opened Baywood Fine Art Gallery is the fulfillment of Mimi Hafft’s goal of giving plein air painters a place to exhibit their work. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • PAINTERLY LADY : The newly opened Baywood Fine Art Gallery is the fulfillment of Mimi Hafft’s goal of giving plein air painters a place to exhibit their work.

Mimi Hafft has been painting for more than 20 years and has become so fed up with traditional art galleries, she decided to open her own.

“It’s going to be the people’s gallery,” Hafft said. “I’m not going to be jurying anything. Just bring your best work, and we’ll see what we can do with it.”

Her gallery, Baywood Fine Art, is located on 1316 2nd St. in the quaint business district of Baywood, a small, often overlooked community on the south side of Morro Bay. With its seaside scenery, rural attitude, and artisan cafés, the town is ideal for setting up an outdoor easel and capturing the sights in paint. This method is called “plein air painting,” and Hafft intends to give its practitioners a place to hang their art.

“There are tons of artists here, and people come here from all over the place to enjoy the scenery,” Hafft said. “Hopefully they’ll want to take home a piece of art that represents the beauty of the area.”

The walls of her small gallery are lined with images of Morro Rock, Hollister Peak, various vineyards, and beaches. The stock is mostly paintings at the moment, but Hafft said she wouldn’t be opposed to featuring more photography or sculptures.

The featured artist is currently Eileen Pritchard, who’s been living and painting on the Central Coast since the ’70s. Her work will hang in the gallery until Jan. 9.

“For me, it’s the whole ambiance of the outdoors—the wind, the sounds, the feel. I can’t get that inside a studio,” Pritchard said. “I have to be out there with it.”

Pritchard works mostly with oils and pastels, and her pieces are colorful and warm, hinting at the quiet reflection one feels in the presence of natural beauty. Many of her images are local landscapes, but she also paints while traveling.

Of Hafft, Pritchard said, “She’s an easy person to work with. She seems more interested in promoting art than selling pieces.”

After Pritchard, Hafft will feature works by “The Thursday Painters,” a collection of artists who meet every week at different SLO County locations to capture different perspectives on the same scene.

“It’ll be a good chance to get low-price, quality paintings,” Hafft said.

In addition to art for sale, paints and brushes are available for purchase, and the gallery features a framing station with all the necessary supplies for making frames and stretching canvas.

Hafft also plans to host painting classes and workshops at affordable rates. She’s charging $125 for six weeks of classes that will introduce beginners to the best techniques for blending colors, handling shadows, and rendering landscapes in paint.

In April 2011, renowned plein air painter Julia Munger Seelos will be holding workshops for $285.

“That’s incredibly cheap,” Hafft said. “I told her we’re not L.A.”

Baywood Fine Art is open Thursday through Monday from noon to 5 p.m. The phone number is 528-8021.

“Art should be a part of your life,” Hafft said. “You need that balance with all the stress in life.”

Fast Facts

If you got unwanted gift cards this Christmas, or have leftover balances, you can donate the funds to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Anyone in the tri-counties area can mail his or her cards to 4222 Market St., suite D, in Ventura (Zip code: 93003). Include the dollar amount left on the card and a return address so the group can mail you a tax receipt. Visit tri-counties.wish.org for more information. …

The Crops Unit at Cal Poly is holding a free seminar on Jan. 8 at 1:30 p.m. to teach people how to prune their fruit trees properly. Pruning helps increase fruit size and yield, and winter is the perfect time to get the job done. For more information, contact Joe Sabol at 544-1056.

Contributing writer Nick Powell can be reached through Managing Editor Ashley Schwellenbach. Send comments to aschwellenbach@newtimesslo.com.

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