Featured Event | Plein Air for the Park

Grand Teton National Park, WY
Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitors Center, July 16-20

Carol Swinney, Afternoon on Mount Moran, oil, 11 x 14.

Carol Swinney, Afternoon on Mount Moran, oil, 11 x 14.

This story was featured in the July 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art July 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!

The Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters converge on scenic Grand Teton National Park for the third annual Plein Air for the Park show and sale this month. More than 40 nationally known artists begin arriving in the park on July 7 and spread out across the breathtaking landscape to capture the area’s abundant natural wonders—mountains, valleys, creeks, and wildflowers. The fruits of the artists’ labors are then presented at an opening gala reception at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitors Center at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 16.

Among this year’s participating artists are Stephanie Birdsall, Bill Davidson, Aaron Schuerr, Erin O’Connor, Cydney Springer, Russ Tanner, and Teresa Vito. The awards judge is Adam Duncan Harris, the Peterson Curator of Art & Research at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, WY. “I think what makes this show special is that so many of us participating have a genuine and abiding connection to this place,” says Stephen C. Datz, RMPAP president. “We’ve been coming to the park for years—hiking, painting, getting to know it. I think what impresses me most about the show each year is that you can see this in the art. There are always going to be big vistas—that’s just the nature of the place. But our artists explore the park in greater depth, so the show offers an uncommonly intimate view of its extraordinary beauty.”

Aaron Schuerr, Oxbow Overlook, pastel, 24 x 36.

Aaron Schuerr, Oxbow Overlook, pastel, 24 x 36.

For collectors, the show offers the opportunity to view top-notch paintings by prominent landscape artists and, because the works are generally small, the price points are attractive, Datz says. Additionally, collectors have the chance to meet the artists on location as they create the paintings that are eventually on display at the gala reception. This year’s presentation includes a small memorial exhibition of landscapes by Greg McHuron, a RMPAP member who passed away in 2012 and who was instrumental in bringing the organization’s annual event to Grand Teton National Park. The RMPAP group also honors him annually by giving the Greg McHuron Memorial Award to one painting that best represents McHuron’s spirit as well as the spirit of the park.

As in years past, the plein-air celebration includes a Quick Draw event at 9 a.m. on Saturday, July 19, at Menor’s Ferry. Art lovers are invited to watch the artists at work, and then they have the chance to purchase their favorite creations right off the easels in a sale from 11 a.m. to noon. New this year, the participating artists may continue painting after the gala reception and add paintings to the show on an ongoing basis. This allows the public to have additional times when they can interact with the artists as well as the chance to continue seeing fresh, new landscape works.

Forty percent of the proceeds from painting sales at this year’s show benefits the Grand Teton Association and its support of educational and scientific programs. Last year’s sales resulted in nearly $38,000 for the association’s activities. “The event is becoming a wonderful tradition at the park and is a fantastic opportunity to contribute to the exceptional, ongoing efforts of the Grand Teton Association on behalf of the park and its visitors,” Datz says. “And for the artists, it’s two weeks of pure plein-air painting nirvana.” —Bonnie Gangelhoff

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Featured in the July 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art July 2014 print issue or digital download Or subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!