St. Joseph en Plein Air

Mark your calendars for Sunday, October 7th. St. Joe is getting its own annual outdoor painting event.
This year I'm bringing plein air painting to St. Joseph, MO. I'm organizing an annual paint out, St. Joseph en Plein Air, sponsored in part by the Missouri Valley Impressionist Society (MVIS). 

To enhance the St. Joseph community, its arts, and share the features that make this city great. 

By participating and marketing a lot of plein air events (paint outs, competitions, festivals) each year through the MVIS, I've seen these annual painting events pop up everywhere---many of them are growing. Urban, rural, small town, big city.  Week long, one day. They vary. This past year I've been thinking, "Hey! St. Joe can do this!" ---and should. Music festivals are a dime-a-dozen in St. Joe, and we need more visual art events. Plein air painting is at a new renaissance. Communities, large and small, across the country are picking up on this and are taking advantage of it. Each being unique based on their urban or rural landscapes and/or history, as well as coinciding events making them more enjoyable for painters and patrons. They are marketing their communities on paper and canvas.

Plein air painting events are being used in variety of ways. While some are used for fundraising or to market an area such as a part of town or a park, others create awareness about a local issue, enhance the community arts, or encourage tourism. I'm surprised more haven't picked up this trend. Below are some examples.

Augusta Plein Air Festival (Augusta, MO)
Augusta Plein Air is a 10 day escape to the Missouri wine country near Augusta, MO. This event is in its 16th year, and attracts well over 100 artists each year. The festival offers numerous events for patrons and for artists to capture on canvas. Quick Paints, workshops, exhibits, and Missouri wine. This event is coordinated by the Greater Augusta Chamber of Commerce.

Stems Plein Air (Overland Park, KS)
Stems Plein Air is one of Kansas City's oldest plein air events. It is a two week painting competition that highlights the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. This year's event included anything in Overland Park. A portion of the event is a fundraiser for the Arts and Recreation Foundation of Overland Park. Coordinated by The Rice Gallery of Fine Art and The Arts and Recreation Foundation of Overland Park.

Brush Creek Art Walk, 2015
Brush Creek Art Walk (Kansas City, MO)
Brush Creek Art Walk is one of Kansas City's largest outdoor painting competitions. This is a three day event that takes place along a four mile stretch of the Blue River/Brush Creek Park near the KC Country Club Plaza. Brush Creek has gone through a major transformation since the devastating flooding back in 1977. Several new bridges have been built, the creek has been reshaped, and landscaping, walkways, and fountains have created a beautiful greenway. This event is in its 7th year, and began as a promotional way to get people out walking/jogging/biking along the newly completed trails. Over 60-70 artists near and far participate each year. This event is under KC Parks and Rec, and ArtsKC Regional Arts Council.

KC Plein Air Festival (Kansas City, MO)
Formerly known as Penn Valley Plein Air Festival. This event is another large outdoor painting event in Kansas City. Artist paint in Penn Valley Park as well as the WWI Memorial. This is a fundraiser where proceeds go to the Penn Valley Park Conservancy. Various Quick Paints and workshops are organized during the event.
Coordinated by Penn Valley Park Conservancy and Buttonwood Art Space.

Paint Marceline, 2016
Paint Marceline (Marceline, MO)

Paint Marceline is a one day (all day) painting event in Walt Disney's hometown---Marceline, MO. This event helps promote the town and artists. Over 30 artists from Missouri and the surrounding states come out to paint different parts of the town and countryside. A Wine and Art Stroll coincides on Maine Street USA attracting over 1000 people.
Coordinated by North Missouri Art Council.

Paint Parkville, 2016
Paint Parkville (Parkville, MO)
Paint Parkville is a one week painting event in Parkville, MO. It attracts artists from all over. Numerous Quick Paint events are held each day. Some of the proceeds from art sales have gone to a charity chosen by the Parkville Area Chamber of Commerce.
This event is coordinated by the Cathy Kline Art Gallery and Parkville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Art Gone Wild (Rolling Hills Zoo, Salina, KS)
Art Gone Wild is an annual art event which includes plein air painting in the Rolling Hills Zoo. Around 20-30 artists participate each year. Some of the animals are also given paint and canvas to create art, then sold to the public. Proceeds from this event go to support the zoo's education programs, conservation efforts, exhibit enhancement and more.

Art for the Fountains (Kansas City, MO)
This was a plein air fundraising event for Kansas City fountains that went on for a couple of years around 2013. The City of Fountains Foundation organized this event, designed to showcase local fountains and encourage contributions for nine aging fountains that needed immediate repairs. The paint out was to help raise over $3,000,000. The art was auctioned off online. Half the proceeds went to foundation's Wish Upon a Fountain campaign. The other half went to the artists. The campaign was very successful and made great strides in repairing and renovating many of the city's grand fountains.

As you can see, these type of events can be valuable. Many around the country have been going on for decades. Most plein air events are organized under an organization. Usually a local arts council, parks and rec. department, chamber of commerce, or other. In truth, anyone can set up an annual plein air event for a cause. It can be a local business. It doesn't have to be a large regional festival, just something small and local. One of the key things to make it successful, is finding sponsors. Sponsorship is important in funding these events and coming up with cash prizes.

St. Joe may not have mountain ranges, big lakes, or shorelines. But we do have rich architecture, history, riverfront, bluffs, and beautiful urban and rural scenery.  Participating artists will have a chance to submit their work(s) for the gallery on the St. Joe Plein Air website for all to see.
Let's get this thing started.

I am seeking volunteers to form a committee. Let me know if you're interested.

Benefits of having plein air events:

  • Once established (2-3 years) they can become a significant source of funds
  • They can bring unique cross sections of a community together
  • They create goodwill within the community
  • They support and encourage tourism
  • They support local businesses including hotels, restaurants, and retailers
  • They can provide a source of education about local history, art, community
  • They can raise awareness about local events, history, persons of interest
  • They can be used to raise awareness about targeted issues
  •  They can be used as fundraisers
  • They can provide State/National Recognition


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