Fresno artist shows Valley’s beauty and strength during pandemic

Local News

FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — Fresno artist, Pat Hunter is a teacher and accomplished painter known for watercolor landscapes.

The classes she teaches at her gallery on Shaw Ave had to stop for two months because of the pandemic.

“We all need that creative outlet. We need that therapy,” Hunter says.

Her students agree. They’ve returned wearing masks and keeping distance while Hunter makes certain tools and surfaces are sanitized.

Student Shelley Vieira says she just began learning to paint three weeks ago for something to focus on and build skills during the pandemic.

“The interest in drawing came because of COVID,” Vieira says.

Tisha Schaefer, also a student says she is practicing detail of sketching an enlarged photograph of a bird. She says art is also especially important right now saying, “I call it my therapy.”

Student, Maggi Ledbetter paints a picture of a pistachio orchard with branches filled with young bunches of the light pink and green bulbs.

She says she sees how creating art is helpful in difficult times but feels it’s important all through life.

Hunter says one of her most recent paintings and one that most Valley residents instantly recognize — the American flag flag-painted barn along Highway 41 just north of the San Joaquin River.

“I don’t know who owns it but it is standing strong out there. And hopefully, it will be there forever and have that statement for all of us through it all we’re staying strong.”

She calls it Through It All.

“And that happens to be a line for one of our church hymns. I painted this at the start of the coronavirus came along. Here we are standing here, through the Spring.  Now in the summer. Who knows how much longer we’re having to get through it all,” Hunter said.

And if scenes of Valley farms and generations-old landmarks invoke feelings of strength perseverance, her new book, Landscapes and Landmarks of the Great Central Valley, shows perhaps how unaware we are of our own strength.

Picture after picture shows the beauty in places we all know well — maybe too well that we start to overlook their striking beauty.

The watercolor painting on the book’s cover shows the view ahead driving down Grapevine into the Valley. The scene is instantly recognizable to anyone who makes the trip.

Author Janice Stevens made the paintings into a book, among other duties.

“My role is to make sure we have plenty of gas. And we have an ice chest in the back seat that is full of drinks and snacky-stuff on the road so that is my job and sometimes I say on some of the white-knuckle drives that we do off-road and go wherever we can I say I have to buy the book to know where we’ve been,” Stevens said.

Hunter says they start out early in the morning.

“We had a map, we decided exactly where. Then again there were a lot of surprises. It was neat. We might have been heading to a specific location but on the way, I made a lot of discoveries including the Mail Pouch Tobacco Barn. What’s interesting about this is in the 40s and 50s and 60s they were rather prolific on the 99 and the tobacco company paid the farmer $2 dollars a year to advertise on the roof,” Hunter said.

See more of Pat Hunter’s work at https://www.gallery2fresno.com/#theBooks

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