~~Easton Galleries are known for their hospitality ALL year long, hosting monthly shows and receptions during the First Friday Gallery Walk. Now, to celebrate Plein Air Easton in it’s 10th year, they are offering a wide variety of activities and extending their hours. Supporters of the festival from it’s early inception with money, mailing lists and hard work, the galleries applaud that the festival has also become an important part of the town’s identity as an arts destination.
~~A few years ago, Plein Air came to Talbot County. It seems very daunting to be surrounded by some of the best plein air artists in the country. For several years, I was terrified to pick up a brush, but after passing forty years old...I said 'what the heck' and decided to try just about everything. The first year, I took my children to participate in the children's quick draw. However, I did not officially participate. Faced with the prospect of silently observing for three hours, I decided it was best to pick up my brush as well.
~~Artist Paul Bachem is no stranger to winning awards. He did, afterall, take home top honors at the first Northport Plein Air event in New York a few years ago as well as honors in Wayne, Pa., Cranford, New Jersey and previously right here in Easton. However, by winning last year’s Quick Draw competition at Plein Air Easton, Bachem’s accomplishment was truly remarkable. The Quick Draw competition tasks artists with producing the highest quality of work in the shortest amount of time.
The Meet the Artists Opening Dinner and Paint Out follows in the romantic tradition of a bygone age when patrons hosted picnics on their estates, while artists painted and guests enjoyed an evening of entertaining company and fresh air. The event is the first opportunity to meet the 2014 Plein Air Easton juried artists en masse and get the inside scoop on who to watch throughout the week. This year the event will be held Saturday, July 12.
For many enthusiastic supporters of Plein Air Easton, the absolute highlight of the week is the Friday evening Collector's Party - this year it's July 18. This much anticipated, sold out event is the first and only time that all 116 competition paintings are displayed and available for purchase. Collector's literally line up at the door to get the first look at the entire collection of hot-off-the easel paintings. Because the $150 ticket price goes toward the purchase of a painting, most of us feel like we've already made a down payment and are now ready to make our selection.
~~You most likely know that Garin Baker was Plein Air Easton’s Grand Prize Winner for 2013. He won with his powerful painting, ”A Buck Twenty a Bushel!”. It seemed somewhat surprising to me that a painting with a figure won the competition but when I saw it I understood why. The painting portrays a waterman sitting at the helm of his workboat, his back to the viewer. He appears to be hot, sweaty and sagging from an arduous day of crabbing. It’s one of those paintings that tell a story simply but deeply and undeniably expressive. Those are the ones that really speak to me.
~~I think of Cambridge as one of those adorable little towns that can make you want to never see another metropolis again. It is to the soul like home cooking is to the tummy: soothing, relaxing, comforting, satisfying.
Picture a lovely old town near the mouth of a sizable river that divides into little arms of water that wend their way through the geography of the communities. Add some small, cozy, close-together frame houses near to town and some larger, statelier homes on the periphery.
On a early warm morning in Easton, artists, teachers and volunteers are busy setting up for the Plein Air Easton Next Generation event. What seems like a quiet start, soon the street becomes alive with the arrival of young artists and families.
~~This time of the year, with Plein Air Easton just ahead, I think about how much the Festival means to so many. To hundreds of talented and hopeful plein air painters across the nation, Plein Air Easton represents the prospect of spending time on the unique and exquisite Eastern Shore, painting its beautiful waterways, boats, breathtaking landscapes and historic properties. It also means experiencing the warmth of a very welcoming and enthusiastic community. The celebrity status enjoyed by the juried artists is well deserved as they are the centerpiece of the festival.