Plein Air celebrates local art for third year

(Julie Pottinger) Residents peruse finished artwork at the Plein Air show on the SHS front lawn. The outdoor art competition celebrated local art, with 41 artists participating.
(Julie Pottinger) Residents peruse finished artwork at the Plein Air show on the SHS front lawn. The outdoor art competition celebrated local art, with 41 artists participating.

The third annual Plein Air Shorewood, an outdoor art competition and celebration, took place on September 1619.

These Plein Air competitions happen all over the USA, and Wisconsin has the most Plein Airs out of any state. The Shorewood Plein Air, however, is known as one of the top three Plein Airs in Wisconsin because of the large cash prizes available.

“The Shorewood Plein Air started as a way to acknowledge the anonymous gift of the Plensa sculpture and to bring … awareness of public art,” said Jenny Heyden, event organizer.

For three days, the artists painted outdoors and competed for prizes. The total amount of prize money given away was over $6000.

This year there were 41 artists in total, 19 of them staying with host families.

“What is different this year than in past years is that we are trying to bring a lot more events out into the public,” Heyden said.

This year the sale location was changed from the library to a tent outside of the high school.

In past years they charged each artist $40 to participate then took a 35% commission of all work sold.

“Those who had not sold in the past were able to do the show for $40–and have a really beautiful event in which their work shown – and still be eligible for cash prizes,” Heyden said.

This year, the artists paid $200 as a fee to participate and they did not pay any commission. According to Heyden, this changed the mix of artists the event received.

Many previous artists returned that had previously paid over $200 in commission. “They were actually saving money by selling here in Shorewood,” Heyden said.

Artists R.L. Weber from Belvidere IL and Carol Grant Stevens from Slinger WI both returned. Both said they loved having the opportunity to participate in this year’s Plein Air once again.

“ [The] beautiful architecture, great area and full community of people that support the arts brought me to the Shorewood Plein Air,” Stevens said.

Both artists have been to other Plein Airs before, including Cedarburg and Beloit. This year was slightly different than previous Plain Airs, however, because of the imperfect weather conditions.

“Many people struggled with the weather, but to me that added the variety you got to paint: … it created a lot of atmosphere. That was a really exciting aspect of this year’s Plein Air Shorewood,” Weber said.

All of the artists did a two-hour quick paint in the business district of Shorewood.

“One of the best parts for me was people coming up to me on the streets and literally thanking me for coming,” Stevens said.

Both artists agreed that the thing that inspired them the most were the other artists.

“Personally, I want to thank all the volunteers that organized the event,” Weber said.

by Martha Dix

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