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MJC showcasing Ripon artist Dan Petersen’s work

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MJC showcasing Ripon artist Dan Petersen’s work

Ripon artist Dan Petersen is shown carrying one of his unique scenic watercolor originals into the Modesto Junior College Art Gallery.

DENNIS WYATT/The 209


POSTED September 15, 2012 2:00 a.m.

MODESTO - Look at one of Dan Petersen’s painting and it’ll change your perception of watercolors.

His technique marries realism with just a hint of abstract to create sweeping vistas that will look familiar to those who share the Ripon resident’s love for the high Sierra and foothills.

Petersen’s work is now on display through Oct. 11 at the Modesto Junior College Art Galley on the east Campus. He’ll be there throughout the show complete with easel and paint while talking with students and community members who wish to visit.

A free public reception is this Sunday, Sept. 16, from 2 to 5 p.m.

Petersen for years painted exclusively landscapes from the Sierra. Since retiring from MJC after a 41-year career teaching art, he’s mixed it up a bit adding in art inspired by the ocean and even pelicans. But the heart and soul of his work is his beloved Sierra.

The former Manteca High art instructor - he taught there for five years starting in 1962 - now resides in Ripon.

Petersen got hooked on the Sierra during family trips. His infatuation was so great that during his honeymoon in the Sierra he ended up painting three landscapes.

He mastered his style at San Jose State under the auspices of renowned California landscape artist Eric Oback. One of Petersen’s many landscapes can be found as a mural in the 200 block of East Yosemite Ave in Manteca adjacent to the American Legion Hall. That painting - dubbed “Sierra Crown” - typifies his work. It is a view of the Merced River in Yosemite Valley with Half Dome and other familiar features that he takes a bit of liberty in repositioning to enhance the composition.

All of his work is done from photographs. Plein air painting won’t work with his technique given it takes 200 to 300 hours to accomplish the look that he wants.

It’s tough not to look at one of his paintings and think to yourself that you’ve been there or have it conjure up pleasant feelings.

And that’s exactly what Petersen would like to happen.

“I’m a Christian,” Petersen said. “I believe all of this is God’s creation for everyone. . . Hopefully you get the feeling of solitude that gives you a break on the business of life.”

All of his paintings are available for sale. Originals typically run from $4,000 to $7,000. High quality art reproduction prints are one-tenth the price of the original.

And while he treasures his art, arguably his biggest source of pride is the fact many of his former MJC students are now teaching art throughout the 209 region.

— DENNIS WYATT

209 staff reporter

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