EASTON — Plein Air Easton, the biggest outdoor painting competition festival in the United States, is celebrating its 15th year.
Run by the Avalon Foundation, it is not relying on its past success.
Much to the contrary, said Jessica Bellis, chief financial officer at the Avalon Foundation and organizer/producer for the event.
“We continue to add unique opportunities to expand the festival’s reach even further and try to include anyone who may be even thinking about — pardon the pun — dabbing into art,” Bellis said. “This year, we have tried to create more depth to such a niche festival by bringing in new opportunities surrounding the world of art. And with everything we try here at the Avalon, we strive to make what has been a success in the past even better the following year.”
Calling the festival a success is an understatement, having sold millions of dollars worth of paintings and drawings to thousands of people around Delmarva and across the world in the past 15 years.
“Most of the proceeds go to the artists, and the rest we keep to make sure we can have another festival next year,” Bellis said. “Plein air painting was not that well known when we started years ago, and while we are continuing to grow things, we are extremely proud and grateful that, across the country, Easton is known as the premiere plein air show. And Talbot County is the place to be for art, artists and collectors every July for the last 15 years.”
This year, the festival has planned a few new features to take place inside the Avalon Theatre, and Sunday, July 14, will be Paint Oxford Day. Competition artists will begin painting at the crack of dawn to capture scenes of Oxford, and the day will conclude with live music, a free reception, exhibit and sale at the Oxford Community Center from 5 to 6:30 pm.
The big three new additions this year are as follows.
• Troika Gallery and Plein Air Easton have teamed up to present “The Making of the MET” with Andrea Bayer, deputy director of collections for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 18. Bayer will ‘”pull back the curtain” of one of the largest and most diverse art museums in the world.
• At 9 a.m. Friday, July 19, master painter from China Jove Wang will paint a portrait in front of a live audience that will be shown simultaneously in HD on the movie screen at the Avalon.
• Presented by Troika Gallery, artist Raoul Middleman will discuss the upcoming film “Middleman” at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 20. Middleman’s paintings are featured in the Baltimore Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Gallery of Art, National Academy of Design and New York Public Library. “Middleman,” the feature film documenting his life’s work, is due for release in 2020.
New this year, featured alumni will paint and discuss their work and other things art-related in a series of free “TED Talk”-style interviews called “Coffee and Conversations.” Each day, three artists will paint in a specific location from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The following morning, they will chat. Rise Up Coffee Pop Up Shop will be open to keep everyone fed and caffeinated. These conversations also will be live streamed and viewable on Mid-Shore Community Television’s YouTube Channel and live on Facebook for those who “like” Plein Air Easton.
The schedule is as follows.
• Monday, July 15, Ray Hassard, Brenda Boylan, Eleinne Basa
• Tuesday, July 16, Lori Putnam, Beth Bathe, Kirk McBride
• Wednesday, July 17, Paul Bachem, Susan Lynn, Tracey Frugoli
• Thursday, July 18, Stephanie Amato, Valerie Craig Joe Gyurscak
All paintings will be displayed and on sale inside the Avalon Theatre during the week of the festival. You also are invited to watch the artists paint.
At 3 p.m. Tuesday, Robert Barber, will discuss “Plein Air Plus Time” at the Avalon. Barber has won the Grand Prize and other awards during his years of participation in Plein Air Easton. His larger pieces can span more than one season, hence the “plus time” element of this presentation.
At 1 p.m. Wednesday, Plein Air Easton will present “En Train Air.” Competition artists Charlie Hunter and Aimee Erickson will discuss a plein air train adventure this spring that took six premier plein air painters from Chicago, Ill., to Santa Fe, N.M.
At 9 p.m. Wednesday, Kirk McBride will present the “Nocturne Paint Out Demo” on Washington Street in Easton. Many scenes that have little interest during the daylight become magical at night. Join McBride as he showcases his methodology for creating a nocturne painting.
At 4 p.m. Saturday on Harrison Street, join PAE alumni artist David Csont for a watercolor painting demonstration followed by a reception at Trippe Gallery.
More painting demonstrations will go on all weekend long at the Tidewater Inn, presented by the Working Artists Forum’s Local Color Show.
“Artists are here to paint the town, in this case from Delmarva inward, next week at Plein Air Easton,” Bellis said. “The exhibit and show are a sincerely spectacular rendering of this lovely area we all call home. Everyone who loves this area should see this show.”
At press time, there are 35 tickets left for the Collectors’ Preview Party, which will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Academy Art Museum and Waterfowl Festival Building. It offers the first chance to see and/or purchase the competition paintings, and the prize-winners will be announced. The $250 ticket price will go toward the purchase of any painting.
For more information, visit www.pleinaireaston.com, call the Avalon at 410-822-7299 or visit theater throughout the week.