Plein Air, Shorewood’s public art festival, took place from September 17-20.
The event’s name originates from the French “en plein air,” meaning “in the open air.” This describes the act of painting outside, away from the studio.
“It forces you to be quick. It forces you to simplify things down into values, and warm and cool temperatures,” said Lynn Rix, Mequon artist.
A small crowd gathered around Daniel Stauff as he painted at an easel set up on Oakland Ave. in front of the School of Rock music school.
“In the studio it would be a much more controlled environment … Your light doesn’t change at all, you pretty much know ahead of time what you are going to do. It really is more [about] execution. Here, you’re constantly trying to figure out the light that you want and the feeling you want,” Stauff said.
According to Jenny Heyden, event coordinator, 100 of the 108 paintings were sold for $36, 500. Heyden said 35% of the proceeds would go to the village. Last year, 91 paintings were sold for a total of $32, 215.
Anthony Sell, Greenfield artist, won the $2,000 Best of Show Award for his painting of St. Robert School, titled “After School.” The $500 Peoples’ Choice Award went to Thomas Buchs, Waukesha artist.
Throughout the weekend, artists could be seen painting and talking with village residents.
“[Shorewood is] a very well organized place to paint,” said Daniel Rizzi, from Plymouth, Wisconsin.
“Shorewood is just a beautiful community,” said Nile Gordon of Ethel, Missouri. “Everyone is so helpful and enthusiastic about the event.”
Vicky Stevens, bystander, looking over the shoulder of Waukesha artist Tom Nachreiner, said that she had lived in Shorewood for over seven years and liked the fact that arts was a part of Shorewood life.
“It’s really fun. It gets people out and introduced to artwork and artists,” Stevens said.
Heyden said this year’s event included 10 more artists and ran for one day more than last year.
“We added things for people of all ages,” Heyden said.
At Atwater and Lake Bluff, artists visited, talked to students and gave them a change to paint outdoors.
Two new competitions – four-hour quick paints – were also added to the festival.
“It’s difficult to plan. You have to be a little bit more on your heels, said Mark Zelton, Green bay artist.
This year’s event also included a chalk art competition and a live performance by Loud Mouth Soup, a band made up of high school alumni.
The idea for Plein Air Shorewood came from the village’s Public Art Committee, the volunteer committee that handled the anonymous donation of the Plensa sculpture in Atwater Park. Committee members wanted to acknowledge the donor and celebrate the sculpture.
“We started to think about how we could get people out to the bluff to draw attention to the sculpture,” Heyden said.
According to the event’s website, Shorewood Plein Air is the third-largest plein air competition in Wisconsin, based on artist sales and the number of participants. Heyden noted that last year’s event brought over 3,500 visitors. “It makes Shorewood a destination for lots of people,” Heyden said.
by Katie Eder