Show Preview | Plein Air Artists Colorado

Durango, CO
Sorrel Sky Gallery, October 5-28

Virginia Unseld, 6 O’clock in the Morning, pastel, 12 x 15.

Virginia Unseld, 6 O’clock in the Morning, pastel, 12 x 15.

This story was featured in the October 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art October 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

Created out of a passion for painting outdoors, Plein Air Artists Colorado has been spreading the plein-air love for more than two decades, and not just at its destination paint-outs held throughout the Centennial State and beyond. Every year collectors are invited to savor the beauty and verve of plein-air painting at the group’s national juried fine-art exhibition. “It’s fun to show people what can be done outdoors when artists are not necessarily in their comfort zones,” says PAAC board member Jennifer Riefenberg. “There’s something about the freshness and life in a painting that happens on the spot, and that’s what we hope to retain in our show.”

The 22nd annual show and sale opens at Sorrel Sky Gallery in downtown Durango, CO, on Friday, October 5, with an artists’ reception and awards ceremony from 5 to 7 p.m. About 40 paintings highlight the talents of founding emeritus members and master signature members, including Lorenzo Chavez, Kim English, and Jeff Legg, but a much larger portion of the exhibition comprises juried works by signature and associate members from Colorado and around the country. “It’s a very competitive show,” says Riefenberg. “And we do require that all works be started and finished outdoors. We want to show the excellence that can be achieved on location. You don’t need a studio to create incredible works of art, and that’s part of why we strive to keep this a strictly plein-air show.”

A blind jury scored hundreds and hundreds of entries, narrowing the pool down to 163 artworks created within the last three years. Paintings are 16 by 20 inches or smaller, hewing to the size range of traditional plein-air creations, but viewers can expect to see a mix of both classic and contemporary styles and themes. In Jeanne Echternach’s oil painting HIGH PLAINS HOMESTEAD, for example, the artist gives a classic rural scene a fresh spin with bright patches of green in nearly every hue from jade to lime. An equally energetic palette underscores Virginia Unseld’s pastel painting 6 O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING, an animated street scene of Estes Park, CO, in the summer. “I was inspired by the calligraphy of brightly colored streetlights and empty storefronts,” says Unseld, who painted the piece from inside her Subaru in the dusky dawn light. “The car interior was very dark,” she adds, “so that helped me focus on my impressions of light and dark and not get caught up in unnecessary details.”

Judge of awards Gerald Merfeld gives a painting demonstration near the gallery on Saturday, October 6, and art enthusiasts can also observe many other PAAC members in action throughout Durango earlier in the week. For four days beginning on Monday, October 1, the artists capture the local sights and autumn colors in the town’s historic district and beyond, including in the Animas Valley and along the river. Although the fresh works are not featured in the gallery showcase, Riefenberg says some artists may sell their pieces right off the easel. Between the lively paint-out and diverse exhibition, collectors are sure to find a plein-air treasure to take home. —Kim Agricola

contact information
505.501.6555
www.pleinairartistscolorado.com

This story was featured in the October 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art October 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

MORE RESOURCES FOR ART COLLECTORS & ENTHUSIASTS
• Subscribe to Southwest Art magazine
• Learn how to paint & how to draw with downloads, books, videos & more from North Light Shop
• Sign up for your Southwest Art email newsletter & download a FREE ebook

COMMENT