EASTON — Over the last 16 years, Plein Air Easton has grown to be the largest most prestigious outdoor painting competition in the nation. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced its organizers, the Avalon Foundation, to modify or completely reinvent almost every facet of the weeklong festival. Instead of focusing on large events that draw big crowds, this year’s programming is disbursed throughout the county and highlighted by small paint-outs, pop-up exhibitions and a large central exhibition hall with ample room for social distancing and other CDC best practices.
Missing from the programming offered by Plein Air Easton was the bevy of educational opportunities that typically accompany the festival. “The art demonstrations that have historically been hosted by the local galleries and the Working Artists Forum — whose annual “Local Color” exhibition and sale was cancelled because of the pandemic — are just not possible this year,” Plein Air Easton Event Coordinator Marie Nuthall said. “These demonstrations are always just packed to the brim. Nobody wants that right now, nor would it be safe for us to promote events of this nature this year.”
Recognizing the loss to the local artist community, Plein Air Easton’s partnering organizations, the Oxford Community Center and the Tilghman Watermen’s Museum, stepped up and have worked to organize two different series of outdoor, ticketed painting demonstrations. Artist demonstrations conducted by some of the nation’s top plein air painters will again be possible, with limited capacity.
“Not only do these demos provide a valuable educational opportunity for those interested in learning more about painting styles, techniques and best practices, but these demos present another way to support the artists, themselves,” Nuthall said.
The eight demonstrations will be limited to 20 people per event. The demos will all be done outdoors in the shade at the Oxford Community Center or under the Pavilion at Back Creek Park. Socially distanced seating will be provided and mask wearing will be required. Registrations should be made in advance for $20 per demo on the Oxford Community Center’s website (oxfordcc.org) or on the Plein Air Easton website (pleinaireaston.com) for demos presented by the Tilghman Watermen’s Museum.
“Explore the Plein Air Easton website to get to know these artists, choose the ones that speak to you and get ready to improve your painting skills. Take a moment to thank our partner organizations and keep supporting the arts, artists and the organizations that make the arts possible.” Nuthall said.
The Yankee Pedler Education Series at the Oxford Community Center
Register by visiting oxfordcc.org, tickets $20 (20 person limit)
The Yankee Pedler Education Series, is being presented in memory of Larry Murray. “Yankee Pedler” is the miniature skipjack that resides in front of the Oxford Community Center, in the general area in which the demos will be held. Larry Murray was a much-beloved Oxford resident who passed away this June. Larry and his wife, Dorette, have annually and lovingly maintained that sweet wooden boat, with all the elbow grease and sweat wooden boats require. He was an exceptional friend, neighbor, volunteer and exemplary role model; a truly irreplaceable, stand-up guy.
MONDAY, JULY 13
John Schisler, Georgetown, Delaware (johnschisler.com). Oils/acrylics, new to PAE this year. Signature Member, National Oil and Acrylic Painter’s Society; Award of Excellence (NOAPS); Best in Show, Ocean City Center for the Arts 2019. The demo is from noon to 1:30 p.m.
John Brandon Sills, Cockeysville (johnbrandonsillsfineart.com). Oils, 14th year juried into PAE. Grand Prize, PAE 2014; Award of Excellence, Laguna Beach Plein Invitational; Third Place, PAE 2015. The demo is from 2 to 3:30 p.m.
TUESDAY, JULY 14
Neal Hughes, Medford, New Jersey (nealhughes.com). Oils. Elected fellow, American Society of Marine Artists; First Place and Artists’ Choice, Cape Ann Plein Air; Gold Medal, OPA Eastern Regional Exhibition. The demo is from noon to 1:30 p.m.
Stewart Burgess White, Easton (stewartwhitestudios.com). Watercolors, 12th year juried into PAE. Signature artist, Laguna Plein Air Association and American Watercolor Society; Grand Prize, PAE 2009 and Olmstead Plein Air Invitational 2016. The demo is from 2 to 3:30 p.m.
WEDNESDAY, July 15
Philip Carlton, St. Paul, Minnesota (pacarlton.com). Oils, new to PAE this year. First Place, Plein Air on the Yellowstone 2017, 2019; featured artist in PleinAir magazine Oct/Nov 2017; Best Atmospheric Perspective, Plein Air Grand Marais 2019. The demo is from noon to 1:30 p.m.
Olena Babak, Hartfield, Maine (olenababak.com). Oils; 5th year juried into PAE. First Place, Hudson River Plein Air 2019; Best Nocturne and Second Place, Adirondack Plein Air 2019; featured artist in PleinAir magazine June/July 2019. The demo is 2pm-3:30pm
The Tilghman Watermen’s Museum Plein Air Demo Series at Back Creek Park
Register by visiting pleinaireaston.com and find the events in the calendar section of the site, tickets $20 (20 person limit)
Tilghman Watermen’s Museum celebrates, documents, preserves and shares the history, traditions, heritage, and culture of Tilghman Island. “Artists and art lovers in the Bay Hundred will have a special opportunity to watch juried Plein Air artists demonstrate their talents under the open air pavilion at Back Creek Park in Tilghman. The pavilion is set in a nature park and will provide shade and cooling breezes,” says Mary Kellogg, one of the Museum’s founders and a long-time Plein Air Easton volunteer. “We are happy to have been able to come together to make this special educational opportunity a reality.”
MONDAY, JULY 13
Tara Will, Hampstead (tarawill.com). Pastels. Signature member of Maryland Pastel Society and Associate Member of the Pastel Society of America; featured in the Pastel Journal’s Magazine Pastel 100 in both 2017 & 2018; People’s Choice Award, Bath County Plein Air; Inducted into Masters Circle 2017, International Association of Pastel Societies. The demo is from noon to 1:30 p.m.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 15
Zufar Bikbov, Watertown, Connecticut (zufar.com). Oils. Plein Air Easton, 9 Awards in 6 years including the coveted Artists’ Choice award in 2014; Gold Medal of Honor Award, Hudson Valley Art Association 2019; faculty instructor at Lyme Academy of Fine Arts; his works are widely present in private collections in the United States — from New England to California — in the UK, Spain, and of course in Russia. The demo is from noon to 1:30 p.m.