Stretch your canvas, prime your brushes, set your easel up – it’s time to paint. Eureka Springs, Arkansas will host a major art invitational next week that could set the Natural State on the map as a true plein air art destination.
From May 20-25, Eureka Springs will play host to the First Annual Plein Air Invitational. And while it may look wrong, that is the correct spelling of the term “plein air.” Coming from the French term, which translates as “open air,” this is a school of painting in which artists paint landscapes while outdoors. What better place than the picturesque Eureka Springs!
While this isn’t the first plein air event that has been held in Eureka Springs, it is the first invitational. According to organizer Kenn Woodard and Statton Gallery owner, Jom Statton, “We wanted this to be unique”.
And it is unique. This year’s competition will feature the top 26, award-winning, plein air artists from Northwest Arkansas and across the United States. “We have painters from Arkansas, Canada, New Jersey, Ohio, Maryland, Kansas, Florida and more,” Statton says.
While the artists will be expressing their creativity, they are also competing for a generous jackpot. The top prize for the invitational is $10,000. A second-place winner will take home $5,000, and the third-place winner will receive $2,500. There will also be five honorable mention winners who will receive $500 apiece.
This jackpot is, according to Statton, “the largest prize for an art competition in Arkansas history”. He says it is also one of the top ten prizes for a painting event of its type.
The prize money was made possible by the Windgate Foundation, which provided a $20,000 grant for the Plein Air Invitational 2019.
Although the invitational will be restricted to the 26 artists, there will be plenty of fun and educational events for the local community and those interested in painting. Every night, there will be different musical performances from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Mainstage, 67 N. Main Street, along with drinks and appetizers prepared by local chefs.
One of the highlights will be a two-day workshop led by award winning painter and judge, John Cook. On Thursday, May 23 and Friday, May 24, Cook will lead an outdoor workshop on plein air painting. Registration is required, so make sure you grab your spot!
In addition, there will be two Quick Draw events, one held Friday, May 24 at Main Stage from 9AM-12PM, and the second will be Saturday, May 25 at the same time and location. The Quick Draw events are open to all artists. The Quick Draw will be $25 per participant each day.
Education is a major concern for the invitational organizers. Noting that other parts of the country have strong traditions of plein air painting, Statton and Woodard want to establish a stronger tradition in Arkansas.
To that end, the invitational artists will paint with local high school students on Saturday, May 25. These students will have the opportunity to learn from the artists and have their art displayed at the New Orleans Hotel. Registration is free for students.
For more information on the event, please see our website at https://www.paofes.com/.
Visit The Statton Gallery, 137 Spring Street, Eureka Springs, AR 72632.