If you have never witnessed a plein air event – that’s painting outdoors – then be prepared to see artists with easels and photographers clicking away at scenic locations throughout West Chester this Thursday.
For many of the participants of this unique fundraiser, known as Plein Air Brandywine Valley, it’s been a bit like an artistic version of “It’s a Mad, Mad,Mad, Mad World” – that 1960s movie featuring a group of people crisscrossing the country in search of buried treasure. Ok, there’s no pot of gold involved in this situation but Plein Air participants will have a chance to compete for a $3,000 First Prize (one for each category, photography and painting), among other prizes and recognitions .
There’s also the visual appeal of seeing dozens of participants, many equipped with parasols against the sun, and even wire shopping carts to carry all their art supplies, all convening at numerous locations throughout the week. (Visit the web site to see more of the “event timeline” that includes Thursday’s block party and “clothesline” art sale, along Gay Street, in downtown West Chester.)
I participated (as an amateur painter with a Day Pass) in Monday’s Plein Air day, which took place at Longwood Gardens and Mount Cuba, an horticultural center in northern Delaware known for its wildflower and native plant gardens. I never made it to Mount Cuba – not because its location is so far away (don’t be fooled by the name) . There were merely too many great things to paint at Longwood.
Choosing what to paint, in fact, is one of the most intriguing aspects of Plein Air Brandywine. The event’s co-organizer, the Chester County Art Association in West Chester, has made it possible, in their words, to “paint, draw, or photograph” the “most scenic properties of the Brandywine Valley including private estates, land preserves, and renowned du Pont properties.”
On the final Plein Air day, on Friday, the artists and photographers can find inspiration, to name two distinctly different locations, at Monkey Hill (Delaware’s only zoo), and at the Andrew Wyeth estate along the Brandywine in Chadds Ford.
The final judging will occur that night with selections made by two prominent leaders in the art world, Frolic Weymouth, founder of the Brandywine River Museum and the Brandywine Conservancy, and Stephen Perloff, the founding editor of the Photo Review. (Tickets to Friday’s gala reception in Wilmington are still available, visit the web site for more details.)
• Where: Various locations in West Chester including the Chester County Art Association at 100 North Bradford Ave. in West Chester. See timeline below.
• Date: Thursday, Sept. 29th.
• Time: Beginning at 9 a.m.
Features: The day’s Plein Air events include workshops for artists at West Chester University and Chester County Art Association (9:00 a.m. — 11:30 p.m.) . There will also be a “quick draw” competition” for children and families in front of the old Court House (4:00 p.m. — 6:00 p.m.). The public is also invited to a Block Party and “wet paint” art sale to be held along Gay Street, near “Kaly’s.” (6:00 p.m. — 9:00 p.m.).
If you are interested in photographing or painting at any of the Plein Air locations, you can sign up with a day pass. Visit the web site for more details.
A portion of the proceeds from the art sales will benefit Children’s Beach House and the Chester County Art Association.
• Price: Free