By ROBIN CAUDELL
PLATTSBURGH — Canadian artist Samir Sammoun is tickled that two of his paintings in "Samir Sammoun: Views of Lake Champlain" were selected to be exhibited in the Governor's Mansion in Albany.
First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson was the honorary guest at his exhibition, which opened June 3 at the Burke Gallery, Myers Fine Arts Building, Plattsburgh State.
Sammoun, who is a landscape artist, will present the paintings July 9.
"I'm in touch with the curator (Dennis Anderson, director Curatorial and Tour Services) in Albany," Sammoun said. "He arranged for me to come down and present the paintings down there."
Paterson selected "Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks, Sunrise, View from Burlington" (2009 oil on canvas, 30 x 24 inches) and "Lake Champlain and Vermont (study 2008, oil on canvas, 12 x 16 inches).
"I was happy," Sammoun said. "It's an honor. I was surprised. It would be nice to have something down there. I didn't think this would be at the mansion. I didn't know what the mansion was. They will be on loan for one year. The mansion is a beautiful place. There are paintings from the Metropolitan there."
The paintings are among 18 he painted for his Lake-Champlain series in which he imagined the landscape through Samuel de Champlain's eyes.
"She (Paterson) has wonderful taste. These are two of my favorites. It's a honor for an artist to have this kind of exposure. I'm very happy with all that. Hopefully, there is another occasion to do other things for the state of New York down there."
Sammoun was born in Lebanon and raised in a mountain-top village 25 miles south of Beruit. He studied at the School of Arts and Crafts in Beirut. At 21, he immigrated to Canada and attended the École Polytechnique in Montréal, where he obtained degrees in electronic engineering and telecommunications.
Despite his demanding professional career, he pursued his passion — painting — in his signature post-impressionistic style. His work is held in public and private collections in the United States, Canada and France. In 2002, he was a featured invited artist for the Mountain Lake Arts Auction in Plattsburgh.
In the exhibition catalogue, Plattsburgh State Art Museum director Cecilia M. Esposito wrote:
"Sammoun uses a contemporary interpretation of the post-impressionist style of strong colors, a thick impasto of paint, and distinctive brushstrokes to illustrate his subject matter. Light and atmosphere play a major role in bringing the paintings to life."
His permanent gallery representation includes the J.R. Mooney Galleries, San Antonio, Texas; Chasen Fine Art, Washington DC; West Coast Gallery, Whistler, BC; and Canadian Heritage Gallery Toronto, Ontario/
He has been featured in "Fine Art Magazine" and was received by the President of Lebanon, His Excellency Emil Lahoud, in the Presidential Palace in Baabda. Sammoun donated "Olive Grove" to hang there.
Celine Paquette escorted Paterson at Sammoun's opening in the Burke Gallery.
"We're certainly deeply honored she visited us and spent time with us," said Paquette, who is vice-chair of the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Commission.
"She appreciated Samir's work. We had gorgeous weather. Everything was like clockwork. She stayed at Valcour."
Several years ago, Paquette challenged Sammoun to create the Lake-Champlain series.
"I took him on the lake on the northern end and southern end, and by car to Crown Point and Ticonderoga," Paquette said. "I said, 'You have to see the lake and Adirondacks from the Vermont side,' and I took him to Burlington."
E-mail Robin Caudell at: firstname.lastname@example.org