Paintings by Aram Larsen and Rebecca Seary | TheUnion.com
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Paintings by Aram Larsen and Rebecca Seary

Arlo Acton by Aram Larsen
Submitted photo |

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WHO: North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural CEnter presents

WHAT: Opening reception, exhibit of portraits of residents from the San Juan Ridge and the surrounding community by artists Aram Larsen and Rebecca Seary

WHEN: 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 12 Exhibition will be installed through Oct. 19. Open from noon to 5 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays

WHERE: The North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center on the San Juan Ridge, 17894 Tyler Foote Road, Nevada City, CA, 95959.

ADMISSION: Free.

INFO: View samples of work at http://www.northcolumbiaschoolhouse.org/landscapeofstories. http://www.northcolumbiaschoolhouse.org, call 530-265-2826, or email info@northcolumbiaschoolhouse.org.

Sandwiched between the middle and south forks of the Yuba River, the San Juan Ridge is known for its diverse blend of ranchers, artists, craftspeople and farmers. Inspired by this milieu, painters Aram Larsen and Rebecca Seary have forged a large series of portraits revealing some of the faces of this eclectic community and the surrounding area. A reception celebrating the culmination of this work will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at the North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center.

Playfully titled “Catch and Release,” Larsen and Seary have been working on the portrait project over the last three years. In 2012 some of the portraits were included in a multi-media community stories project conducted by the North Columbia Schoolhouse with sponsorship from Cal Humanities. Larsen and Seary have continued to expand the project to include close to one hundred subjects.

Seary studied painting at Langara College in Vancouver, British Columbia, under the mentorship of Scottish painter Lesley Finlayson. She began painting as a small child, painting large canvases and surrendering to color. Her portraits have been compared favorably to the work of Alice Neel and Jack Richard Smith for their “clarity and honesty of intention.”



With a background in psychology counseling and personal growth work, Seary’s paintings reflect her interest in the intimate, often cathartic connection between artist and live subject.

“When Aram and I work, we sit with our subjects, chat for a bit, and start sketches,” she said. “Some people tear up, expressing that they’d never been seen quite like that in their lives.”




Seary is interested in “what connects us, how it seems to emanate from sharing the land, the river, and love.”

Larsen learned the fundamentals of drawing early in life alongside his father, illustrator and Disney animator Lin Larsen. He has been at the canvas since age 16, mainly exploring abstract composition with his mentor, Grass Valley painter Menlo Macfarlane. He continues to study perspective and the science of color with friend and collaborator, Reese Sutfin.

While painting portraits was very familiar to Seary, it was relatively new to Larsen and took him “a good year to penetrate” the art form.

“I learned from working alongside Rebecca. I’d look at her canvas and see a big flurry of color,” said Larsen. “It seemed like total confusion, yet gradually I’d see the person emerge from these colors.” Larsen went on to say that his work on the portraits “has allowed me to focus on the essence of the subject beyond the face.”

Seary and Larsen have showed their work throughout the western states and British Columbia, and recently appeared at Phil Space gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where THE Magazine favorably reviewed the project. They are excited to be showing the complete project locally for the first time.

“My own personal investigations and growth have led me to be interested in what I’m giving through the paintings and what stories I’m telling,” said Seary. “I love the time I have spent with each person and the honesty of texture and color, shadow and light in the studio.”

The portrait project “Catch and Release” featuring paintings by Aram Larsen and Rebecca Seary will be on exhibition at the North Columbia Schoolhouse until Oct. 19, and may be viewed during normal office hours on Mondays and Wednesdays from noon to 5 p.m., or by appointment by calling 530-265-2826.


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