Community Commentary:

Sale to benefit Newport Bay restoration

July 19, 2008|By Roger Mallett

We, the Newport Bay Naturalists and Friends, are proud of our involvement in the protection and preservation of Upper Newport Bay — the largest remaining natural estuary in Southern California.

Many ask: “What is an estuary?” The simplest answer is: “A place where fresh water and salt water meet.” The tidal mouth of any river is an estuary.

Upper Newport Bay is a scenic oasis in the midst of urban Orange County, and many come to enjoy its colorful vistas. But few realize the ecological importance of it and other natural estuaries. This was the driving force behind the building of the OC Parks Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center.


Here, the natural wonders of the bay are “interpreted” for people of all ages through interactive exhibits, live reptile and amphibian displays and audio-visual presentations that explain the interaction of the huge diversity of wetland wildlife.

Over the years the bay has been a source of inspiration for artists of the Southern California Plein Air Painters Association. This led to the conception of an annual “Paint Back Bay” Fine Art Exhibition and Sale in collaboration with the Naturalists, Newport Beach Arts Foundation and OC Parks.

This year the event moves from October to July, and paintings on display will highlight the bay in its spring and summer colors. Sixty artists have submitted plein air paintings for the regular juried competition.

Additionally this year, there is a separate competition to select a plein air painting that will be recreated at mural size as part of a stunning new exhibit at the entrance to the Interpretive Center. What better way to introduce visitors to the concept of an estuary than through the interpretation of a skilled artist. Thirteen finalists have been chosen to compete for the $5,000 purchase award.

The exhibition and sale will take place at the Interpretive Center (2301 University Drive, Newport Beach) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and July 27. Art displayed will include paintings of the Back Bay and other local scenes.

Thirty percent of sales will support restoration and education programs conducted at Upper Newport Bay.

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