Riverwalk System Not Just For Exercise Enthusiasts

Leslie Calimeri sits behind her easel painting a city landscape scene. P-J photos by Michael Zabrodsky

Both were sitting behind their easels, but at different points on the bank of the Chadakoin River.

One artist was using acrylic paints while the other was using oil-based paints. Each was making sure the shading and lighting were as accurate as they could be. Both were painting the same live scene, but from different angles. No matter what angle they were painting, the view was beautiful on a recent Friday afternoon along the Jamestown Riverwalk System near the Board of Public Utilities buildings.

You would think the system attracts walkers, joggers, bicyclists and others that enjoy being active.

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The painters were painting landscapes for the Plein Air competition at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute. Their scene was of the Chadakon River and its surroundings. Included in the scene were the river, a Washington Street Bridge, The National Comedy Center, The former Furniture Mart building, trees, a walking bridge, the huge breakwall, the walking trail, green grass, train tracks, and the blue sky with white clouds that were reminiscent of giant pillowy balls of cotton.

Melissa Meyers, an artist of Bemus Point was honing here live painting skills.

A version of this landscape is what the artists were painting.

“I dabble in all sorts of media,” Meyers said.

She was peacefully painting, and had started on a Thursday. She likes working with acrylic paints, and said it is challenging painting when the sun moves because the shadows move and the perspective changes. It was her first time painting a live setting. Usually, she said, she takes a photograph and paints a replica of the photo in her studio.

“When the sun comes out the colors that you mix dry so fast. Yesterday they were drying before I could even use them,” she said.

According to artistsnetwork.com, “Plein air painting is about leaving the four walls of your studio behind and experiencing painting and drawing in the landscape. The practice goes back for centuries but was truly made into an art form by the French Impressionists. Their desire to paint light and its changing, ephemeral qualities, coupled with the creation of transportable paint tubes and the box easel–the precursor to the plein air easels of today–allowed artists the freedom to paint ‘en plein air,’ which is the French expression for ‘in the open air.”’

Another artist, Leslie Calimeri, of Jamestown uses oil paints and also was finishing her painting as part of the Plein Air competition. She said she concentrates on local landscapes and historic areas.

A pedestrian bridge leading to Panzarella Park near the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities buildings. P-J Photo by Michael Zabrodsky

“Sometimes I paint vegetation and things too that are often overlooked, but have a lot of beauty in them — highlighting the area we live in. I have always really enjoyed the juxtaposition of architecture — especially transit — and the natural area around it and how the shapes fit with one another,” she said.

Through world-class exhibitions and programs, RTPI illuminates the beauty of nature; challenges people to confront environmental issues of regional, national and global concern; and inspires us to preserve the earth’s biodiversity – with a particular emphasis on the natural area wonders of Western New York, according to RTPI.org.

“I think it’s great what is doing,” Calimeri added.

The serenity is another aspect that draws visitors to the trails.

The system is a five-mile urban trail system that follows the Chadakoin River through Downtown Jamestown. which offers trails for walking, jogging, biking and in-line skating. The system connects with several municipal parks including Chadakoin Park, Comedy Park, and McCrea Point Park and the Boat Launch, according to tourchautauqua.com.

Jamestown BPU employee Anne Cappalino enjoys the Riverwalk during her breaks.

“I like to come and walk the Riverwalk and just enjoy the scenery and serenity of the area,” Cappalino said.


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