Venetian-inspired watercolors come to Kwan Fong

Observing: Attendees take in the watercolors and enjoy the reception. Photo by Alli Westerhoff – Staff Photographer.

The Kwan Fong gallery at CLU was awash in watercolor last Saturday for Terry Spehar-Fahey’s artist reception. Her exhibit of watercolors was inspired by her travel seminar’s trip to Venice, Italy.

In 2011, Spehar-Fahey, watercolor professor at California Lutheran University, and communications professor, Dr. Dru Pagliassotti took a trip to Venice.
Inspired by other watercolor artists such as William Turner and John Singer Sargent, among other artists, the work created during this travel seminar brought the city of Venice to life.

The name of the exhibit is Imagining Venice and those who have never been to Venice can see and imagine what the city is like through these paintings.
Former CLU religion and Greek culture professor Ernst Tonsing described some of the paintings as “mystical” and “fiery.”

“I am looking at the Canal Grande, floating as if this were a real scene,” said Tonsing, who couldn’t take his eyes off the painting as he described it so vividly.

It all began at CLU President Chris Kimball’s Christmas party, where Spehar-Fahey and Pagliassotti first met and discussed the travel seminar.

“Terry had this dream of teaching her students how to water paint along the canals of Venice,” said Pagliassotti. “So one day she accosted me and said, ‘We must go on a travel seminar to Venice!’”

A day for smiles: Michael Pearce and Terry Spehar-Fahey look on. Photo by Alli Westerhoff – Staff Photographer.

Pagliassotti had previously been in Venice on Sabbatical.

When Spehar-Fahey found this out she knew they would travel to the city of Venice together along with CLU students.

“When I arrived in Venice all I could think was how much of a surreal city it is. It’s one of those places so rich in culture and many wonders…Eventually you can see the city beneath the tourists and be able to feel and see what inspired Venetian artists,” said Lindsey Brittain, a 2011 CLU alumna.

The trip created experiences and memories the students are still thinking about.

“My most vivid memory is just being able to sit there in the Gondola and becoming inspired,” said Melissa Feeley, a senior at CLU.

Spehar-Fahey had already traveled to Venice in the year of 1977 and although she has noticed some changes when it comes to tourism, she explains why being there for 10 days allows you to become a part of the city, and not a part of the tourist crowd.

“It was my dream to be able to stand where my heroes stood and become inspired as they were. A lot of my paintings and their names pay tribute to Venetian painters that have become my inspiration for these paintings,” said Spehar-Fahey.

Denielle Billing, former student of Spehar-Fahey, attended the art exhibition. She mentioned her favorite painting was “Salute from the Ponte del Vin.”

“I saw this piece last semester when I took her class. It wasn’t finished then. I look at it now and the life inside of it just screams ‘wonderful,’ almost as if her travelling there and seeing the place gave life to the painting,” said Billing.

Spanish-literature professor Rafaela Fiore-Urizar emphasized the importance of becoming culturally nourished, as it is essential for the cultural inspiration.

“Her work is not just about herself but about other artists’ work through her eyes,” said Fiore-Urizar.

Spehar-Fahey and Pagliassotti plan on taking another travel seminar to Venice in 2013.

Maria Castrejon
Staff Writer
Published Sept. 19, 2012