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Framing the coast

SANTA CRUZ — Forty-eight paintings by artist Erika Perloff depicting a string of northern Santa Cruz beaches are on display at Hotel Paradox in Santa Cruz.  

The works, in oil, gouache and pastel — titled “Each Beach” — are the result of a two-year project showcasing some of Perloff’s favorite coastal spots.

“It started out by simply going the beach, places I’ve been going to forever, and painting every beach between the Boardwalk and Año Nuevo,” Perloff said. “It eventually expanded to include Seabright State Beach, north up to Pigeon Point.”

She said the idea came about from numerous trips she and her husband made to area beaches.

“One day it struck me that all that beauty was being ruined by so much trash,” she said. “I thought of what I could do to help and to give back and Save Our Shores came to mind. I started thinking about the daily use and misuse of our beaches. So every time I went out painting I picked trash. The coast north of Santa Cruz holds a special place for me; it is where I lived for 25 years, and where I raised my family.”

Perloff said she created a goal to help clean up area beaches: donate the sales of her beach paintings to Save Our Shores, a Santa Cruz-based nonprofit that is celebrating 40 years of protecting the environment through education and stewardship. 

“The beauty of our local coastline is a big reason that many of us live in Santa Cruz and that visitors flock here,” Perloff said. “On my visits to paint at these beaches, I witnessed natural events like spectacular wildflower displays, tens of thousands of shearwaters flying across the ocean, dolphins and whales leaping from the water and coyotes scavenging along the tideline.”

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“The More the Merrier” is a pastel painting of Cowell’s Beach by Erika Perloff.

While some of the works were created completely on location, others were mostly from memory. Perloff would often bring a sketchbook and make small sketches and paintings, then create larger ones in her studio. 

“I am interested in creating an image that will give you a sense of the place in that moment in time,” she said. “I hope that when you look at the paintings in your home they take you back to the coast, if even for a moment.” 

Perloff will also show her work in the annual Open Studio Art Tour in October. Her works can be viewed at erikaperloff.com.

Hotel Paradox is at 611 Ocean St., Santa Cruz.

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