CANANDAIGUA – The Finger Lakes Plein Air Competition and Festival, now in its seventh year, offers opportunities for the community to learn more about the contemporary plein air painting movement in their own backyard.
About 40 artists from across the country and Canada will set their easels up on roadsides and in parks and fields from June 5 to 9, to paint works that will be judged and sold. The event ends with a free public exhibition of the work on June 10 at Sonnenberg Gardens in Canandaigua.
Sponsored in part by the Ontario County Arts Council, the festival takes its name from the French term for “open air.” Many well-known vistas, including the lookout over Canandaigua Lake on County Road 12 in South Bristol and the gazebo in Kershaw Park, are among those the artists choose to paint. Local residents can register on the festival website to give artists access to some of the region’s lesser-known sights.
Artists must apply to attend and be accepted by a panel of local judges. Local artists accepted into the festival include Geoffrey Wittig of Dansville, Kari Ganoung Ruiz of Interlaken, Cindy Harris of Bloomfield, Steve BonDurant of Macedon and Judy Soprano of Rochester. Ruiz won Best in Show in the 2017 festival.
Kenneth DeWaard of Hope, Maine, who has practiced plein air painting for 30 years, will travel to Canandaigua to judge paintings the artists complete during the festival. He will also hold a three-day workshop from June 11 to 13.
The Finger Lakes Plein Air Competition gets started with the artists’ arrival on June 5. The first major event is the Paint Out along the Canandaigua Wine Trail on Thursday, June 7 with freshly painted works on sale from 6 to 8 p.m. at Hazlitt’s Red Cat Cellars. The expansion into Naples was an addition to the festival last year that was so successful organizers have included it in this year’s event.
The activity returns to Canandaigua on Friday, June 8, with an evening talk by another plein air celebrity, Steve Doherty, former editor of Plein Air Magazine, at Ferris Hills at West Lake.
The festival wraps up with a busy weekend, starting Saturday, June 9 with the Quick Draw for visiting artists and the Community Paint Out for local and regional artists. The Community Paint Out takes place in a defined area of Canandaigua with judging and a show and sale at the First Congregational Church.
The Preview Party and Exhibit, a ticketed event featuring a cash bar and light fare, gives attendees a chance to purchase the artwork created during the competition in the evening of June 9. Entry to the June 10 Public Exhibit and Sale is free with food available for purchase.
Volunteers are still need to help set up and run events and answer questions about the festival. To volunteer or get more information, call (585) 394-0030, email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.fingerlakespleinair.com.
Key festival events are as follows:
- June 7: Visiting artists will paint along the Canandaigua Wine Trail with the public invited to a wet paint show and sale of the day’s work at Hazlitt’s Red Cat Cellars in Naples from 6 to 8 p.m., free entry.
- June 8: Steve Doherty, former editor of Plein Air Magazine, talks about “The Bugs and Benefits of Plein Air Painting,” 7 to 9 p.m., Ferris Hills at West Lake. Tickets are $15, available at Pat Rini Rohrer Gallery, 71 S. Main St., Canandaigua or (585) 394-0030.
- June 9: Plein Air Artists Quick Draw Competition, downtown Canandaigua, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., awards at 12:30 p.m. at the Commons Park on South Main Street, art on sale through 2 p.m.
- June 9: Community Paint Out, Main Street in Canandaigua, 10:30 a.m. registration (advance online registration recommended), 10:30 to 12:30 p.m. painting, cash prizes at 2 p.m., exhibit and sale through 5 p.m. at the First Congregational Church, 58 N. Main St., $10 entry fee for artists, free to visitors.
- June 9: Preview Party Exhibit and Sale, 6 to 9 p.m., Sonnenberg Gardens, 151 Charlotte St., festival winners announced, cash bar, music. Tickets are $35, available at Pat Rini Rohrer Gallery, 71 S. Main St., Canandaigua or (585) 394-0030.
- June 10, Finger Lakes Plein Air Competition and Festival Exhibit and Sale, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sonnenberg Gardens Carriage House, free entry, food and drinks available for purchase.