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Artists Paint Parallel Views of the Southwest

Currently on display at Space Studio in South Pasadena, "Parallel Views of the Southwest" tells two artistic tales about the trip of a lifetime.

For more than a decade, Mount Washington artist Kevin Spitze, 66, has painted the Arroyo.

Years of practice have informed the co-founder of the Mount Washington Plein-Air Painters' knowledge of the area's rolling hills and lush flora. He understands how the light plays of its subjects and how the dense vegetation fills a canvass.

He was comfortable and at home in Northeast LA, and perhaps that's why, after a decade of painting in his own backyard, he traveled into the unknown.

This summer, after retiring from his day job as an IT recruiter, he set off an a adventure to capture a new array of colors in foreign landscapes.

In June, he and fellow Mount Washington Plein-Air Painter Rick Wilson embarked on a 12 day journey through the Southwest, making stops in Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, painting larger-than-life vistas like the Capitol Reef, Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly and the Grand Canyon.

An exhibit capturing that trip, Parallel Views of the Southwest Loop, is currently on display at Space Studio, located at 1504 Million St. It will show from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Friday, and from noon until 10 p.m. during the South Pasadena Arts Crawl on Saturday.

"The show is really a celebration of the trip," Wilson said. "We've paired up the paintings side by side, and even though we were painting the same landscape, they are quite different."

Each man painted twice a day, capturing the same landscapes.

"It really got us into the flow," said Wilson of the routine.

After more than a decade of following the same painting routine, Spitze said the Southwest offered greater challenges beyond just using a different color palette.

"We had to capture as much as possible in a short period of time," he said. "You can't go back and recapture it the next day because of travel."

In between stops, Spitze said he and Wilson spent much of the time talking about their craft and being inspired by the freedom travel.

"Most of the conversations were about painting, what we could do to get better," he said. "It was like a pilgrimage to all of these locations that so many great artists have painted. It was the trip of a lifetime."

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