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Local artist joins watercolor masters in China exhibition

In China, Evansen and other artists in the exhibition got a taste of celebrity treatment. Here, he is being photographed with a woman and some of his artwork. Submitted photo1 / 2
“Nice Warm House” depicts a winter home in Hastings. It was one of the paintings he brought to the exhibition in China and was purchased by his sponsor.2 / 2

Vermillion artist Andy Evansen has proven to be a skilled watercolor painter. According to his website, he won an international competition through “American Artist” magazine. His work has been on the covers of several artists magazines and is in collections on four continents. He’s won several awards and teaches internationally as well as in his downtown Hastings studio.

This past fall, Evansen was informally recognized as one of the best watercolor artists in the world.

He was one of just six international watercolor artists invited to The Third International Watercolor Masters Invitational, held in Nanning, China, in late November.

“It’s such a huge honor,” Evansen said.

It was his fourth visit to China, the first three being for more casual painting excursions. This time, he was invited by the exhibition organizers. Evansen said the invitation is all thanks to a friend of his, John Salminen from Duluth. The two met up in April at the American Watercolor Society’s awards dinner (where Evansen was formally welcomed to the AWS as a signature member), and Salminen went on to give Evansen’s name to the invitational organizers.

In May, Evansen was asked to send about a dozen of his paintings for review. Organizers chose seven to include in the exhibition, including one of downtown Vermillion and one depicting a scene in Hastings.

He flew out Nov. 18, giving himself a couple days to overcome jet-lag and to see the sights before the exhibition started Nov. 21.

A big deal

The first half of the trip was spent in Nanning. The six international artists (Evansen, Salminen, Joseph Zbukvic of Australia, Stanislaw Zoladz of Sweden, Alvaro Castagnet of South America and Konstantin Sterkhov of Russia), along with eight Chinese artists, had their works on display at the Guangxi Art Museum. There were artists events scheduled at the museum as well as at the Guangxi Arts Institute, where students got to interact with the artists and learn about their work. There were also other local exhibitions for artists to take part in.

“It was just kind of a nice cultural exchange of ideas,” Evansen said.

Plus, the events there were received with much more enthusiasm than artists typically expect from an American audience. The artists were given the red carpet treatment, complete with news crews and crowds of people big enough for a rock star.

“Over there it’s like you’re revered,” Evansen said. “... It’s just a whole different world over there for artists.”

The second half of the trip, Evansen spent painting in Sanjiang. There, whenever he would set up to paint, crowds would gather around and watch him work from start to finish.

“There, they just surround you,” he said.

Evansen was impressed by the people there.

“The people are always so wonderful,” he said.

One person he had to thank specifically. Mo Fang, a Chinese woman who owns a bottled water company, volunteered to sponsor his trip. She paid for everything for him, he said.

Getting invited as a master watercolor painter is memorable, but the people made it even more so. Evansen celebrated his 50th birthday while he was in China, and he was treated to a big cake and plenty of singing. He was also invited to a “hundred-family banquet.” According to an article on China Daily, a Chinese-focused news provider, the banquet is a way for the Dong ethnic group in Guangxi to entertain guests.

Evansen said the banquet filled the town square with long tables covered in all sorts of different foods to try. There was also dancing and music.

Next

Evansen is back in the U.S., but his schedule isn’t slowing down much. In February, he and his wife will be going to Maui in Hawaii for a week-long plein air festival. In April, he’ll be giving demonstrations and talks at the fifth annual Plein Air Convention and Expo in Tucson, Arizona. Also in April, he’ll be in New York for the American Watercolor Society’s annual exhibition. In June, he’s hoping to get enough students signed up to teach a class in England, and in July he’ll be heading to Door County, Wisconsin, for another plein air festival there. The time in between events will be filled with the workshops he teaches both locally and elsewhere.

“I’m always on the road some place,” he said.

To keep up with Evansen and his work, go to www.evansenartstudio.com.

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