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Muse: Cigars and scenery at the John Natsoulas Gallery

What could be odder than exhibiting landscapes with cigar boxes? However incongruous the combination may seem, the John Natsoulas Gallery's Smokin'! Cigar Box Exhibition, along with two landscape shows, pulls it off by creating a relaxing and enjoyable experience for viewers.

The exhibit, which runs until Apr. 21, features artwork of various landscapes by D.A. Bishop and UC Davis alumnus Phil Gross, as well as a historical and perceptive look at the artistic influences of cigar boxes and its related artwork.

The gallery will also host an opening reception for the shows on Apr. 7 from 7 to 9 p.m. The artists will be in attendance and live music will be provided by The Barkin' Spiders.

UC Davis junior Casey Souza, who visited the gallery with friends Mar. 28, said she enjoyed the exhibits.

"The painted scenery looks like what we see in Davis, and I like the cigar boxes - especially the old-school style," she said.

The exhibition consists largely of old cigar boxes from the 1830s and Civil War era culled from various antique shops, cigar boxes that have been painted on by artists such as Alejandro Rubio and Marie Pascal and vintage cigar labels.

The other two shows currently on display in the exhibit feature artists who have a passion for painting landscapes: Bishop's set mostly consists of large format paintings of acrylic on wood panels of rural landscapes, while Phil Gross' subjects are mainly landscapes of the Sacramento Valley and San Francisco city scenes.

Gross is a Davis resident who has been painting for 10 years and is one of the six artists specially selected to be in the Yosemite Artist-in-Residence program. This exhibit is his first large format solo show. Having been a part of group exhibitions in the past, John Natsoulas decided to give Gross the opportunity to showcase his works singly.

"It's wonderful to be showing at a premier gallery, and it forced me to do more," Gross said. "We have such geometry and colors here [in the Sacramento Valley] and it is a landscape that has been largely overlooked."

Rose Hembrou-Each, assistant to the director at the Natsoulas Gallery, said such exhibits are excellent opportunities for students to be exposed to contemporary art from both local and national artists in one convenient location.

The works of Bishop, Gross and The Smokin'! Cigar Box Exhibition can be seen at the John Natsoulas Gallery through Apr. 21. The opening reception for the exhibits at the John Natsoulas Gallery is Apr. 7 at 7 p.m.

Located on First Street across from Borders, the gallery is open Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Fridays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on weekends from noon to 5 p.m. For more information, visit

Source: The California Aggie Online