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If you’ve been out and about in the Tri-Cities, you’ve seen these artists’ work

Kennewick artist Carol Betker adjusts her painting Monday after hanging it for display at Tucannon Cellars. Betker is part of the Cyber Art 509 online artist cooperative exhibiting work at the Benton City venue.
Kennewick artist Carol Betker adjusts her painting Monday after hanging it for display at Tucannon Cellars. Betker is part of the Cyber Art 509 online artist cooperative exhibiting work at the Benton City venue. Tri-City Herald

Terri Rice carefully hung a small oil painting on the wall.

In her hands, dabs of color had become a rolling landscape with a big blue sky and puffy, luminous clouds.

The Pasco artist, who also works in watercolor, has a portfolio filled with lush, evocative, lovely pieces.

If you’ve been out and about at all in the Tri-Cities, you’ve probably seen her work.

Rice is one of several dozen artists who make up Cyber Art 509, an online artists’ cooperative.

The group meets monthly for social gatherings and inspiration, and it also regularly displays art at venues around the Tri-Cities and beyond.

One of those venues is Tucannon Cellars in Benton City, where Rice hung the oil painting recently.

“I’ve been painting for years. I wanted a constant outlet for putting things out there. (Cyber Art 509) is fantastic for that,” Rice said. “One thing that’s always lacking for artists, I think, is a place to show work.”

Cyber Art 509 formed several years ago, evolving from the group 509ART. It has nearly 80 members from around the region.

Dues are $12 a year and it’s open to all artists; members aren’t juried in.

Cyber Art 509 has regular displays at spots from Viewpoint Dentistry in Richland to the state attorney general’s office in Kennewick, from libraries to restaurants to wineries.

“It gives people a chance to see work by local artists when they’re going about their regular business — going to the dentist, taking their kids to story time, going to dinner, going for a beer,” said Jan Taylor, a painter who joined Cyber Art 509 when she moved to town three years ago.

It also provides a great opportunity for artists to connect with one another, she said.

Rice finds that aspect enriching. Artists can be introverts, squirreled away in their studios and work spaces, lost in their pursuits, she said.

“This group is a great way to force me to go rub shoulders with other artists,” Rice said.

Patrick Fleming, an artist and longtime Tri-Cities art teacher, is a founding member of Cyber Art 509, along with his wife, Patricia.

The Tri-Cities has seen a decline in opportunities for exhibiting visual arts, he said — something he connects to a lawsuit years ago over art at Pasco City Hall.

Cyber Art 509 helps remedy that by providing regular exhibition opportunities, he said. And it gives artists a way to share how they see the world — a beautiful and important thing, he said.

“Everybody has a vision; here’s the chance to show it. It allows local artists to share their vision,” Fleming said.

Cyber Art 509 always has art hanging at Tucannon Cellars; the pieces are rotated out every couple of months.

Ethen Warren, co-owner, said the regular displays add beauty to the winery’s walls and draw customers who come to check out their favorite artists’ work.

Tucannon also is the site of an annual soiree that’s part of Cyber Art 509’s popular Tour de Arts. This year’s tour is planned for October.

At the winery on a recent morning, Rice hung her oil painting. Fleming was on hand, too, hanging pieces and answering questions from artists.

Pam Sharp, a painter known especially for her watercolors of birds and horses, was there, too.

Like other artists, she said she likes the connection she gets from the group, as well as the chance to show and sell her work.

Art is important to a community, she said.

“Art feeds your soul. You’re working all day, you’re just bombarded by electronics. But art is something you sit and contemplate. Every time you look at a piece, it says something different,” Sharp said.

Cyber Art 509 “is the best group in the community. Every artist should be in this group,” she said.

For more on the collective, including information on upcoming shows, go to cyberart509.com or find the group on Facebook by searching under Cyber Art 509.

Sara Schilling: 509-582-1529, @SaraTCHerald

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