Chasing the Light: From China to California opens at The Barn Gallery in Woodland

Impressionists are known for chasing the light and depicting its changing qualities in paint.  The artists showcasing their work in an exciting new YoloArts exhibition, Chasing the Light: From China to California have come together with their mentor and internationally acclaimed master artist, Zhiwei Tu, to exhibit at The Barn Gallery in Woodland.

This exhibition marks the first time these artists have shown their work together. The artists, from northern California are: Eric Fei Guan, Lee Rue, Benjamin Wu, Richard Yang and master artist Tu. All are members of Oil Painters of America and Yang and Wu studied under Tu at the Guangzhou Fine Art Institute in China.

From a small mountain village in China, Tu is a well-known artist in his native country and well regarded within the painting community worldwide. He showed artistic promise at a young age, studied painting during the cultural revolution, and eventually taught at the Guangzhou Fine Art Institute. He moved to the U.S. in the 1980s having accepted a scholarship to Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa and began exhibiting his work throughout the Midwest. By the time he completed his MFA he was exhibiting his work throughout the United States.

Artists Yang and Wu reconnected with their teacher in California after they all had moved to the state they now call home.

“Light was a topic all throughout our painting education, but also, America is the light. We all wanted to come here and stay and keep working on our dreams to be artists. The visual arts is kind of like a light we are chasing,” Yang said recently.

The exhibition will feature different genres of painting including still life, landscapes, and portraits.

Painting together frequently, these artists travel for plein air painting around California and recently attended  a YoloArts Art and Ag farm visit in Winters where Tu painted the 100-year-old barn on the property. The farmer ended up buying the painting of this Yolo County agricultural treasure.

“California light is very surprising, it is so bright and colorful. Not like anywhere else,” Tu said. He has recently turned his focus to painting farm equipment and tools, and these works will be featured in the exhibition.

In 2013 Tu was awarded a lifetime achievement award from the Oil Painters of America.

“He is an incredible painter who has a unique gift and is not afraid to try different things. While many artists get into a groove and stay there, Tu is always learning and will go above board and out into the ether in his paintings,” said Neil Patterson, past president of Oil Painters of America. “He’s like a guru in China, well liked and well known.”

The artists will be in attendance at the exhibition’s opening, 5;30-8 p.m. Thursday December 9.  The reception will also feature music by the Dolcetto Quartet, with Dotti Egel, and Heather Thomas, violin; Melissa Lyans, viola; and Joanne Wright, cello. Light refreshments and Yolo County wines will be available.

Programming around the exhibit includes:

Saturday January 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bay Area artist Benjamin Wu will be conducting a realistic still life painting workshop. The workshop is designed for experienced painters and include demonstrations and hands-on participation. The workshop fee is $200. For more information or to register for the workshop go to

Saturday February 5 12:30-3:30 p.m. artist Zhiwei Tu will demonstrate plein air painting outdoor at the Gibson House and property. This event is free, although RSVP is required as space is limited. Sign up at

The Barn Gallery is located at 512 Gibson Road in Woodland. The gallery is open Wednesday and Thursday afternoons 2:30-5 p.m. and two Saturday afternoons monthly. Face coverings and social distancing is required. For more information contact

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