WAUSAU, WISCONSIN: Paintings of seaside vistas, wildflowers in bloom, and warm-weather excursions comprise “Celebrating Summer: Plein-Air Painters of America,” on view at the Woodson Art Museum, June 22 through August, 25, 2013.
More than eighty paintings whisk viewers away on summer breezes to locales from Venice to Mexico, from a Maine lawn chair to a Pacific Coast surfboard, and from a Wisconsin motorcycle parade to an alfresco wedding. Whether depicting expansive panoramas or intimate vignettes, plein-air painters work swiftly in shifting light and weather conditions to convey the ambiance of a scene.
The Plein-Air Painters of America, founded in 1986 on California’s Catalina Island to further the historic tradition of painting “en plein air” – a French phrase meaning “in the open air” – organized this exhibition specifically for the Woodson Art Museum. Some of the “Celebrating Summer” artists will participate in a Paint Out on opening day, Saturday, June 22, in two downtown Wausau locations and offer artwork they create for purchase during a reception that evening at the Museum.
Whether working outdoors or from field studies in the studio, plein-air painters strive to depict the timeless beauty of the world around them in oils, pastels, or watercolors. Capturing light is key. Mid-nineteenth century French Impressionist painters Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Auguste Renoir used color to convey light on form to depict what they saw in nature.
Late nineteenth-century American painters attracted to the plein-air concept developed a keen interest in places with remarkable light. Many, including Willard Metcalf, Theodore Robinson, John Singer Sargent, Guy Rose, and Frederick Frieseke visited Monet’s Giverny. Art colonies formed throughout the country in the early twentieth century with the goal of capturing the particular light and colors of a specific location.
Carrying on this tradition that began in the mid-1880s with the advent of portable paint in tubes and box easels and peaked with Impressionism, artists who paint on location today are enjoying a resurgence of interest in their work. Increasingly, plein-air painters share their talents and creativity with one another and the public when they gather in outdoor areas for “paint outs.”
Opening day of “Celebrating Summer” offers the opportunity to watch plein-air painters at work in two downtown Wausau locations, followed by a public review of Paint Out artwork at the Museum.
Ten artists – some with artwork in “Celebrating Summer” and several other Wisconsin plein-air painters – will set up easels on Saturday, June 22, 9 a.m.-Noon and 1-4 p.m. and paint what they see from these locations:
• River Views from the Eye Clinic of Wisconsin, 800 N. First Street
• City Scenes from City Hall, McClellan & Fourth streets
The public can view all Paint Out artwork at the Museum during a Plein-Air Review, 5-7 p.m., Saturday, June 22, in the sculpture garden, or indoors if the weather insists, and enjoy refreshments, conversation, and the opportunity to purchase Paint Out artworks directly from the artists.
Wisconsin plein-air painters gather to paint in the sculpture garden Sunday, June 23, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., another opportunity to see them at work and view “Celebrating Summer” in the galleries.
Paint the Town: A Plein-Air Paint Out funding comes from a Community Arts Grant from the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin, with funds from the Wisconsin Arts Board, Community Foundation, and the B.A. & Esther Greenheck Foundation.
Visit www.lywam.org for details about programs and upcoming events.
Woodson Art Museum
Hours: Tuesday – Friday 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
First Thursday of each month 9:00 am – 7:30 pm
Saturday – Sunday Noon – 5:00 pm
Closed Monday and holidays, including July 4
Admission: Always Free Admission
Location: Franklin and 12th Streets, Wausau, Wisconsin 54403-5007
(700 N. 12th Street)