Southwest Gallery, April 9-May 14
This story was featured in the April 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art April 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
Some of the best open-air painters in the United States gather to show their work in this month’s Plein Air Southwest Salon. Organized by the Outdoor Painters Society, the show is a splendid opportunity to meet the artists and purchase their work. Many of the artists attend the opening reception on Saturday, April 9, from 3 to 7 p.m. at Southwest Gallery, where the show has been held since its inception 11 years ago.
The society includes 350 members, all of whom are dedicated to painting in the open air. The salon is a members-only show, though artists may apply for entrance to the society and the show at the same time. Members of the society and guest judge Marc Hanson jury the show. Artists may submit four works for evaluation, and anywhere from one to all four could be accepted. Works are scored on a scale from one to “I wish I’d painted that,” says show chairperson and society president Tina Bohlman.
This year’s salon showcases 217 works by 88 artists from 19 states, including New York, Minnesota, and Washington. Since the artists hail from across the country, the paintings reflect this diverse geography as well.
Texas painter Suzie Greer Baker travels widely to plein-air events. She’s drawn on those experiences for the four pieces she exhibits, which feature locales from Laguna Beach and Monterey, CA, to Kerrville, TX. “I really enjoy that this is a plein-air-only show. It brings out the best plein-air paintings and shows that you can get a quality piece of artwork on location,” she says. Baker’s paintings depict a beach scene and a dry-docked boat, to describe two. “I don’t go into a scene with things in mind. I want to be inspired by what I’m seeing. I want my paintings to have a spontaneous look to them, where the brush strokes feel confident and intentional and there’s a freshness to it,” she says.
Randy Saffle, the society’s vice president and membership chair, also hails from Texas. He’s drawn to rural landscapes and mechanical objects. Those old trucks and tractors remind him of his childhood, and he hopes viewers experience that nostalgia as well. His pieces for this show feature an old barn, a locomotive, a tire store, and a harvest scene. Saffle has been painting for nine years and has participated in the show for eight. “This show, in many ways, is why I paint today. It’s where I first got introduced to the art of plein air,” he says.
Another highlight of the show’s opening day is the Quick Paint, in which artists are invited to produce work on site. Unlike similar events, which typically restrict the painting time to just a couple hours, here artists can begin painting at daybreak on Saturday, April 9. They must, however, finish by 11 a.m., so their works may be whisked off to the gallery in time to be hung for the reception that afternoon. —Ashley M. Biggers
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