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Southwest Exhibition at the El Conquistador Tucson Launches This February

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Sofia Moraga | The Daily Wildcat El Conquistador Resort is showcasing art from Eric Jabloner.

Local Tucson artists will be sharing paintings of all subjects and mediums at the Small Paintings of the Southwest exhibition at the El Conquistador hotel in Tucson this February.

Thirty-nine paintings from artists in the community will be on display in a small gallery at the resort. Each artist will have one or more of their pieces on display and up for sale, which they may switch out during the exhibition period as they choose.

The Tucson Pastel Society began organizing the event when they were inspired to use the El Conquistador mini-gallery for a showcase. Since January of 2017, the hotel began renting out an unused business room to artists in the area to exhibit some of their work to the ever-changing crowd at the resort. The space, dubbed “The Artist Nest,” is rented out for free and the Tucson Pastel Society decided it would be the perfect place to exhibit a collection of small paintings from local artists looking for more eyes.

“I think the idea of a little room like that, like the Nest, is kind of neat because people don’t get overwhelmed,” said Karen Brungardt, a watercolor artist and retired physician. “You go into a big gallery where there’s just tons and tons of paintings and people can go into overload … but in a small space like that, they can really get intimate with the paintings.”

Brungardt will be exhibiting a desert landscape on handmade paper in the show. Ever since she earned her undergraduate degree in applied arts, Brungardt’s medium of choice has been watercolor.


Sofia Moraga
Eric Jabloner's painting "Desert Landscape" represents the Tucson scenery. It is shown at the El Conquistador Hotel.


“I love the versatility of watercolor,” Brungardt said. “It can go so many different directions; you can mix it with other things, you can make a painting look real with very little detail or you can be as detailed as you want.” 

Brungardt will be present at the gallery throughout the month but hasn’t yet established a schedule.

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Karyn Vampotic is the coordinator of the event and the philanthropy chair at the Tucson Pastel Society. Not only is she helping organize the event and schedule the artists’ sit-in periods throughout the month, but she will be a showing artist as well.

Vampotic was an Arizona assistant attorney general until she retired about five years ago, at which point she began her journey as a painter. She quickly found a love for pastels and watercolors and enjoys painting pictures of animals and wildlife.

“[Pastel] is a brilliant medium,” Vampotic said. “We mix colors by having complimentary colors next to each other, over each other — it’s many layered so the bottom layer of greenery in a landscape could be red or red-orange or pink and the final product would be green.”

Vampotic shares the Tucson Pastel Society’s goal to make pastel and other art mediums more accessible to the community through the Tucson Arts Brigade, a charity bringing artistic opportunities to children. The society has also been raising money to renovate their building to American with Disabilities Act standards and make it a warm, inviting place for artists of all kinds.

Sofia Moraga
"Night Boarding," a painting by Eric Jabloner, being shown at a local art gallery in the El Conquistador Resort.


“Our dream is to have the building renovated so we can offer free art classes for handicapped children,” Vampotic said. “We really believe that art adds a whole dimension to children’s lives.”

The Small Paintings of the Southwest exhibit will be benefiting this cause as each artist is asked to pay a $35 fee to showcase their work.

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Artists also have the opportunity of sitting in during the gallery’s open hours. This allows them to interact with potential buyers, as well as display additional works.

“The first goal is to provide maximum exposure for local artists at a high-end resort at the best month in Tucson,” Vampotic said.

As of Jan. 9, eight spots were still open for artists to hang their paintings. Anyone interested in showing their art at the Small Paintings of the Southwest show can visit www.tucsonpastelsociety.org for more information and submission forms.

The exhibit opens on Feb. 1, and will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.


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