Up and down the hill approaching Henderson Park, around the crown of Riverview Cemetery, and at scattered locations elsewhere around town Saturday, artists sat, trying to capture picturesque Louisiana scenes in the precious hours allotted to them as part of Golden Hills Plein Air.
For eight years now the event, sponsored by the Raintree Arts Council, has invited artists to spend a day outside capturing a scene from Louisiana on canvas before sharing it with their fellow painters.
Many of the artists interviewed as they worked, said they had been to the annual event many times. They cited the community that formed up around the annual event as their reason for coming back.
Allen Kriegshauser, of Kirkwood, Mo., set up a little off the beaten path, painting the installation of yellow flowers outside Centenary Methodist Church. He’s been, he said, to almost every Plein Air held in Louisiana. When asked what brought him back—the comradery was the first thing that came to mind.
“I made a lot of friends up here,” Kriegshauser said. “The hosts are great. Its a pretty place to paint.”
Twenty-six artists attended this year’s event—about 10 fewer than last year. A variety of push and pull factors may have played into the final total, organizers said.
One group of usually faithful attendees from Iowa were lured away by a Plein Air event being held in their home state. Cutting the other way, good weather brought in a last minute flurry of participants—nine registered the day of the event. But other reliable attendees were lured away after they were juried into competitive art fairs.
“They were just too good—this year. Next year, they may be back.” said Ashley Branstetter, who helped organize and run the event.
And in the final analysis, Louisiana has a final push for the artists it has now been drawing for almost a decade.
“Of course, the water always bring them here. The bridge and the water views they love,” Branstetter said said.
After the work was completed Saturday afternoon it was put on display in Elks Lodge No. 791, where potential buyers and interested aesthetes could see how their town looked through a stranger’s well-trained eyes.
Twenty-six paintings were purchased by 18 patrons over the course of the evening—one buyer bought six.
The first-place award in the contest went to Kriegshauser. Second place went to Jim Trapp, third to Henryk Ptasiewicz. Jane Mudd, Lorraine McFarland and Konstantin Kublanov won honorable mention. The people’s choice award also went to Henryk Ptasiewicz
The contest for the night was judged by Mark Florida, a St. Louis-area artist.