Show Preview | Laguna Beach Plein Air

Laguna Beach, CA
Various locations, October 9-16

Ray Roberts, Morning on Main Beach, oil, 20 x 24.

Ray Roberts, Morning on Main Beach, oil, 20 x 24.

This story was featured in the October 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  October 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

The Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational is once again set to take over Laguna Beach as the city becomes an outdoor studio and a celebration of al fresco art. The town was historically a plein-air artists’ colony, and the 35 artists participating this year continue this legacy during the nine-day event.

The invitational opens with a Quick Draw on Sunday, October 9, from 1 to 3 p.m. An artists’ reception and a live auction follow at Seven-Degrees gallery at 3 p.m. The live auction is a debut event in the invitational’s 18-year history. The ticketed Collectors Gala, held at Tivoli Too on Friday, October 14, from 7 to 10:30 p.m., rounds out the event’s highlights, when the artists present the three best paintings they have created throughout the week.

Ray Roberts, last year’s best-of-show winner, returns this year, along with Michael Obermeyer, Rick J. Delanty, and Debra Huse. Eight artists, including Zufar Bikbov and Shelby Keefe, participate for the first time. Artists are invited to bring one painting completed before the show, which is featured in the commemorative catalogue, as well as various other paintings to be hung in the venue’s library. The works finished in advance may be studio pieces and often depict other subject matter; however, the pieces completed on site and featuring Laguna’s ocean and cliffs are the exhibition’s stars. “Laguna was built on plein air. The painters are all there for the light,” executive director Rosemary Swimm says. “We live in a time when so much is happening to where we live. We’re not preserving the land. We may not be able to preserve it by forming a conservancy, but artists can preserve it on canvas. That becomes the legacy they leave for generations to come.”

Hiu Lai Chong, who often paints the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River near her Rockville, MD, home, brings a couple of paintings from that area to hang in the library. Returning for her fifth year, she says she enjoys the event’s camaraderie, which extends to the viewers who wander by her easel. She counsels that passersby might become part of her paintings—as happened last year when her models left, and onlookers volunteered to become part of the scene.

Chong and Oregon artist Brenda Boylan both marvel at Laguna’s scenic beauty, with its clear light and blue and tan hues. “The ocean and sand are grayer in Oregon, where I’m from,” Boylan says. The returning artist paints in pastels, which she describes as a beautiful, luminous medium, but because of framing considerations, one that’s difficult to use in competitions. She says the Lagnua Plein Air Painters Association handles this detail, as well as many others throughout the week, flawlessly.

The festivities also include a kids’ paint-out, when local schoolchildren set up easels and receive mentorship from LPAPA artists; a next-generation paint-out for artists at the college level; and two artist panel discussions with open Q&A sessions. The invitational concludes with a free, two-day public art show and sale, during which the artists continue to paint on location. —Ashley M. Biggers

contact information
949.376.3635
www.lagunapleinair.org

This story was featured in the October 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  October 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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