The for 22nd year, Plein Air Artists Colorado will hold its National Juried Fine Art Exhibition, and this year, they have selected Durango’s Sorrel Sky Gallery to be the host.
Along with the exhibition, artists also participated in a PAAC “paint-out” in the days leading up to this weekend, which will feature an opening reception and awards ceremony at the gallery.
“With PAAC, every year, we try to have at least one destination paint-out. We choose a wonderful place, of which we have many in the West,” said Jennifer Riefenberg, PAAC treasurer. “We try to just get together a painting that’s not a competition that’s just fun and any members that want to can participate and just paint with others. So we just decided, since the national show is in Durango this year, that we would couple the two events and make it a destination, too.”
According to a news release from Sorrel Sky, the exhibit will feature about 100 different juried artists and almost 200 pieces, all completed entirely in plein air, and within the last two years.
Riefenberg said the painting technique is gaining a wider audience.
“Plein air painting – painting outdoors from life – is getting much more popular, but we’ve been doing it a long time,” she said. “I think part of what makes it interesting is so much of studio work, you know, 90 percent of the art out there is created in the studio in a closed environment. And when we’re outside painting, people can see what’s happening with the artist.”
She said part of what makes the technique so alluring is the varied results artists are able to achieve, even when working at the same location.
“I think that adds a lot of excitement and interest to it because you can have two artists standing side by side looking at kind of the same scene and their paintings will be totally different just because of how we interpret it,” Riefenberg said. “I think that’s why it’s become very popular is because it’s more active for the viewers.
“Any time you’re painting from life, you are fully immersed in the environment,” she said. “I think it’s an artistic challenge, but it’s a great tool.”
Southern Colorado artist Gerald Merfeld will be this year’s awards judge. The juror panel of well-established painters, proficient in plein air painting, remains anonymous, scoring each submission to the Annual National Juried Fine Art Exhibition on its own merit, the release said.
For Sorrel Sky Gallery owner Shanan Campbell Wells, that PAAC chose Durango as this year’s location is no surprise.
“I may be mildly biased, but what better location in Colorado for plein air painting then Durango in the fall?” she said in a news release. “With its historic downtown streets and neighborhoods, the narrow gauge train, the Animas River and its many picturesque bridges, Durango is a plein air painter’s paradise.”