By Linda Stein
Thirty artists from all over the country will gather in Wayne this May for the Wayne Art Center’s Plein Air Festival.
After they paint in the outdoors from May 12 to 17, their work will be on display from May 17 to June 28 at the Wayne Art Center. A private Artist and Patron Welcome Dinner will kick off the event May 12. A Grand Opening Gala will be held May 17 from 6 to 10 p.m.
California artist Randall Sexton has been chosen as this year’s juror. Sexton, who is known for his color and expressive brushwork, is based in San Francisco but grew up in Connecticut. At the Gala Opening, Sexton will award $8,000 in prize money to the artists.
“We’re very excited that he is coming and doing a workshop for us,” said Nancy Campbell, director of the Wayne Art Center. Sexton, a signature member of Plein Air Painters of America, is a “well known artist,” she said.
Now in its eighth year, this festival, a major fundraising vehicle for the Wayne Art Center, attracts more and more respected artists who vie to be included. Some local families and committee members open their homes to lodge them, according to Karen Louis Fay, director of special projects.
The artists paint within 20 miles of Wayne during the first three days of the competition. Scenic countryside and historic Main Line homes and street views are all fodder for their brushes. On May 16 the painters will have their choice to paint at the fabled views at Ardrossan Farm in Villanova or in historic Philadelphia.
Campbell is pleased that the artists will be able to paint at Ardrossan before much of it becomes an upscale housing development. The estate and mansion were the inspiration for “The Philadelphia Story.”
“It’s a great opportunity for the artists to capture the beauty of that magnificent property,” said Campbell.
The center also plans a high tea and tour of the Ardrossan mansion on May 14 from 2 to 4 p.m., said Campbell. Joan Mackie, a member of the Montgomery Scott family, will take guests on a tour of the mansion. Following the tour a high tea with champagne will be served in the mansion’s formal dining room. The cost is $125 per person.
On May 17, the charming downtown of Wayne will become the artists’ focus from early morning until 1 p.m. The Wayne Art Center will also hold a behind the scenes conservation tour of the Barnes Foundation with lunch in the Garden Restaurant from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on May 21. Space is limited to 25 people so RSVP by May 14. The cost of that special event is $125 per person, as well.
Bryn Mawr painter Monique Lazard is happy that she’s been selected to participate in the Plein Air Festival this year.
“I participated in Wayne Plein Air the first year I applied in 2010,” said Lazard. “I got lucky the following year when I was asked to fill in for an artist who couldn’t make it. However, I was not accepted for the next two years so am absolutely thrilled for getting in this year. I think it has gotten more competitive each year. The main reason is because participating artists experience first-hand how gracious the Wayne Art Center, its staff and committee members are. The word gets out pretty fast about these things.”
“Plein Air events can be quite demanding, especially with unpredictable weather,” Lazard added. “It always seems to rain during this event and you just have to work around it. Some artists work from their vehicle, some paint is a cafe or find shelter in a barn or under an umbrella which aren’t that dependable. The Wayne Art Center is very considerate about anticipating the artists’ needs. For instance, we were asked for the make of our car and our license plate number so we will have passes to park in downtown Wayne. In other Plein Air events I have been involved with, everything is left up to you.”
Most years the artists create from 250 to 300 fresh works of art. The gala opening will allow patrons to meet the artists and view the new works. Doors open at 6 p.m. for those with early patron view tickets and 7 p.m. for regular admission tickets. The event offers a festive and elegant setting with open bar and heavy hors d’oeuvres by Jimmy Duffy Catering and an ice sculpture luge by Rob Capone. Live jazz and Little Black Dress Wines will be offered. Guests will have first pick of the paintings for sale.
During the Plein Air Festival, a new juried exhibition, Radnor Reflections, Capturing a Way of Life Through the Lens of a Camera, will be presented by the Radnor Conservancy and Wayne Art Center in the Ethel Sergeant Clark Smith Gallery. Radnor Reflections is an exhibition of photography that chronicles the natural, historical and cultural assets of Radnor Township throughout 2013-2014.
At 12:30 p.m. on June 4, author, art historian and collector Fred Dixon will speak about Impressionism and sign copies of his book, “700 years of Art History: Pre-Renaissance to Modernism.” Sexton will also hold a free painting demonstration on May 18 at 1 p.m. at the Wayne Art Center. In addition, he will also be teaching a three-day workshop in Plein Air painting Monday through Wednesday, May 19 to May 21. Registration for the workshop can be made at www.wayneart.org or by calling (610) 688-3553.
The artists’ works from Plein Air Festival will remain on display and open to the public from May 17 to June 28. Regular gallery hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information go to: www.wayneart.org or www.pleinair.org or call the Wayne Art Center at (610) 688-3553.