“Vistas, Varmints and Vagabonds: The PAC6 Paints the Wild West” Opens July 31 at the Santa Paula Art Museum

SANTA PAULA, CA – The PAC6 Painters return to the Santa Paula Art Museum this summer with their second major exhibition. “Vistas, Varmints and Vagabonds: The PAC6 Paints the Wild West” will open July 31, 2021, and will be on view through November 7, 2021. The artists will be on hand for an opening reception on Sunday, August 1, 2021, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission to the reception is $10.00 for SPAM members and $15.00 for non-members. All of the 81 artworks in the exhibition will be available for purchase. The exhibit will also be available to view online at www.santapaulaartmuseum.org beginning July 31, 2021.

PAC6 is a group of six women artists from Southern California who joined together in 2014 to travel and paint en plein air across the country. They are Linda Brown, Marian Fortunati, Nita Harper, Debra Holladay, Laura Wambsgans and Sharon Weaver. While the six artists paint side-by-side during their expeditions, each artist renders the location and subject matter in her own distinct style. “We thrive on our differences,” says Fortunati. “We push each other’s abilities,” adds Weaver. The variety and volume of works that result from the group’s travels have resulted in two museum-caliber shows. The hugely successful “Between Heaven and Earth: The PAC6 Paints the Sierras” was exhibited at the Santa Paula Art Museum in 2017.

In “Vistas, Varmints and Vagabonds,” the PAC6 Painters explore the American West, painting its classic scenery, colorful characters, historic happenings, and all the things that make it a uniquely special time and place in history. The show’s initial muse was the author Samuel Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain), more specifically his 1872 travelogue entitled “Roughing It.” The group was not only looking for new places to paint in the Western landscape, but they also wanted their collection of paintings to tell a story about what life was like in the American West. Following in Clemens’ footsteps, the PAC6 painted locations including Lake Tahoe and Angel’s Camp in California, and Virginia City, Nevada before the COVID pandemic forced the six women to reimagine their mission.

Stay-at-home orders meant that the artists were no longer able to travel, nor work alongside each other. The group decided to move forward by referencing some of their past pilgrimages and by performing their own historical research to round out the exhibit’s content. The show now includes scenes in California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and Montana. Isolation afforded a few practical advantages: the artists had much more time to reflect on their works in progress and, therefore, more time to make thoughtful edits and additions. It was also an opportunity to experiment with new techniques. All six artists agree that their new exhibition has been made stronger by the challenges it faced.

“Vistas, Varmints and Vagabonds” leaves viewers eager for their own adventure, and that’s precisely the point. The PAC6 Painters give each other the courage to journey to new places, and they want their audience to feel encouraged to do the same, especially now as the world reopens. There is a lot of beauty to be found in exploring the unknown—the PAC6 and the American West are proof enough of that.

The Santa Paula Art Museum occupies two historic buildings located at 117 N 10th Street and 123 N 10th Street in downtown Santa Paula, California. The Museum features rotating exhibitions of vintage and contemporary art, art classes for children and adults, creative community events, a well-curated gift shop, and more. Visit Wednesday to Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is $4.00 for adults, $3.00 for seniors, and free for students and members. To contact the Museum, please call (805) 525-5554, or email [email protected].

Sharon Weaver_ Leave the Light

Nita Harper _Wild West Show

A California Morning

Linda Brown Heading for the High Country

Laura Wambsgans Engine 29

Debra Holladay_ Searching for the Mother Lode

PAC6 GROUP PHOTO_Courtesy Garters and Bloomers, Virginia City, CA-


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