THE PLEIN AIR PAINTING FESTIVAL : takes place Sept. 27-Oct. 4 from 11am-5pm, all over SLO County. There are film and poetry events, collectors’ party, music, kids activities, and much more. Pictured is Robert Sandidge in action. The SLO Art Center is located at 1010 Broad in downtown SLO, on the west end of Mission Plaza. The Art Center is festival headquarters all week, offering painting maps and helpful information to festival-goers. Some of the participating artists: Ken Christensen, John Deckert, Myra Knapp, Juan Pena, and Shirley Pittman to name a few. All work is for sale, as this is the Art Center’s largest fundraiser of the year. Info: sloartcenter.org or 543-8562.
SCHEDULE: Sept. 27: Welcome party, 4–6 p.m., kicks off the festival week at Trilogy Central Coast Monarch Club in Nipomo. Meet and mingle with the artists while enjoying an evening of Central Coast wines and appetizers by an award-winning chef. Artists will set up paintings on easels for a sneak preview. Free for Art Center members, $10 for nonmembers.
Sept. 28: Artists will start to paint some of the most beautiful places in San Luis Obispo County, starting in the morning. The public is encouraged to watch the artists at work as they create festival paintings that will hang in the Art Center on Friday.
Sept. 29: Kids Paint Out. Kids can try plein air painting from 3:30–5 p.m. on the Art Center lawn with a teaching artist. Register in advance. $10 fee includes all supplies.
Sept. 29: Movies screen at 7 p.m. in the Art Center. Enjoy two episodes of the excellent PBS documentary Plein Air: Painting the American Landscape, featuring Taos and Denali National Park. Tickets cost $7, which includes a glass of wine.
Sept. 29-Oct. 1: The Art Center exhibits one representative piece by each festival artist.
Sept. 30: Café Musique performs at 7 p.m. on the Art Center lawn. This popular band plays gypsy, tango, classical, swing, and waltzes. Tickets cost $12 for members, $15 for nonmembers.
Oct. 1: Plein Air Poetry: Celebrating the World We Live In takes place at 7 p.m. in the Gray Wing. Nine poets will paint images of the local landscape with words. Free.
Oct. 2: Collectors’ party from 4–6 p.m. in the Art Center. For serious art collectors, this is the first opportunity to view the 150 festival paintings and purchase at a fixed price, in advance of the general public. Fine wines and light fare will be served along with live music and a chance to talk with the artists about their works. Tickets cost $50 for members, $75 for nonmembers.
Oct. 2: Art After Dark from 6–9 p.m. The nexus of the city’s monthly gallery walk will be tonight’s public showing of the juried exhibition at the Art Center. The public will have the opportunity to view and purchase festival paintings.
Oct. 3: Quick Draw Paint Out happens from 9:30–11:30 a.m. in the city block around the Art Center and the historic Old Mission Plaza. Watch as festival artists race to complete a painting in two hours, frame it, and put it on display. Paintings will be displayed in the Mission Plaza from 11:30 a.m. to noon. A live auction takes place from noon–2:30 p.m. in the Mission Plaza Amphitheater.
Oct. 3: From 10 a.m.–5 p.m., the Art Center is open free to the public and paintings are on sale and can be purchased right off the walls.
Oct. 4: From10 a.m. – 4 p.m. it’s the last chance to view and purchase festival paintings on exhibit in the Art Center. Admission is free.
New Times What’s going on at this year’s outdoor painting festival?
Muara Johnston This year’s festival, the eighth, has been expanded to a week-long series of events. The new events are the movie night, the Plein Air Concert with Café Musique and the Plein Air Poetry. We are also having the collectors’ party, which is a bit different than what we have done in the past.
New TimesWhat part are you looking forward to?
Johnston The Paint Out on Saturday morning is one of the great treasures of the Central Coast. Seeing all those painters, from all over, in this two-block radius, in all the nooks and crannies downtown, painting in doorways, by the creek, and on street corners, is magical to watch. To be able to go from artist to artist and see them in their process is just amazing. Then they go up on auction when they’re still wet. It’s an amazing, dynamic, exciting event.
New TimesHow does Café Musique represent plein air painting?
Johnston We are doing the concert outdoors, under the stars, on the Art Center lawn. We wanted a quality musician who embraces the spirit of classical music. Plein air painting comes from the impressionist era. The French impressionists started the plein air movement.
New TimesTell me more about the Plein Air Poetry event.
Johnston It has been going on in SLO for awhile. The poets have put out a book of Plein Air Poetry. What makes it unique this year is we are asking the poets to go out with the painters to be inspired by the same vista. On Thursday night we will have the [corresponding] painting next to them as they read their poetry.
Christy Heron can be reached at email@example.com.