CAC: En Plein Air exhibit showcases local talent and local scenes

By KATE SNYDER

Community Arts Center

The newest exhibit at the Community Arts Center features 122 pieces of artwork created by over 20 local artists. The artists featured in the exhibit are all members of the Plein Air Artists of Central Kentucky (PAACK), group of artists who share a common interest in creating artwork outside.

During the spring and summer months, the PAACK members schedule ‘paint-outs’ at locations throughout the region, including the Central KY Wildlife Refuge, Downtown Perryville, the UK Arboretum, and several private homes. Danville resident Mary Beth Touchstone hosts the artist group every year, and the vibrant Adirondack chairs in her backyard frequently make an appearance in the En Plein Air exhibit.

Detail from a painting by Roni Gilpin of Waynesburg titled “In the Garden” – painted on location at the home of Mary Beth Touchstone

Touchstone says, “I am an unabashed fan of so many of our local artists! My husband & I have become collectors of fine local art. The walls of our home are adorned with original artwork by living artists that I know personally. I love having them come to my neighborhood to create (paint, draw, quilt) because, well, because I’m a groupie! I am fortunate to count many of our artists as personal friends so when they visit, we have a cookout or potluck dinner, too.”

The Plein Air Artists of Central Kentucky deliberated omitted the word “painters” from their name in an effort to include a wide range of artists, a decision that Arts Center Creative Director Brandon Long says is unusual. “A lot of artist groups are very strict about what they consider to be part of the plein air tradition,” says Long. “Many are exclusively not just painters, but oil painters. Or there might be a plein air pastel group. They become very specialized. What’s cool is that this group takes on all media. The exhibit this year includes watercolor, pastel, oil painting, collage, photography, fiber, and charcoal drawing and it’s fascinating to see the same location represented in so many different ways.”

Artist John Dixon of Danville adapted his technique of studio collage to the outdoor setting of the plein air paint-outs.

John Dixon recently joined the PAACK group and has enjoyed adapting his collage-making to an outdoor setting. “Studio collage is about re-purposing existing images, a juxtaposition of the ingredients themselves, and the inherent spontaneity of the process, but this new practice is more about interpreting what is visually in front of me. To develop the capacity to genuinely see what is before me and to paint with paper is an exciting prospect.” Working with tiny pieces of paper outside was not without its challenges, however. “It’s no surprise to me that relatively few people are creating collage artworks entirely out of doors. Aside from the creative challenge that faces any person working on site, a collage artist needs to guard against what even the mildest of breezes can do with small bits of paper. I spent some time on hands and knees, searching for wayward scraps in the surrounding grass!”

The local focus of the exhibit coupled with the high quality artwork makes the En Plein Air exhibit a community favorite, says Long. “I think the entire community takes great pride in this exhibit. It’s a celebration of a great group of local artists representing – beautifully – their local environment. It really showcases the beauty of the area.” He adds, “That might explain why the artists have already sold 15 pieces from the show!”

Marlene Hanna of Gravel Switch captures the beauty of former Danville mayor John Bowling’s home with oil paint on canvas.

Community members interested in learning more about the Plein Air Artists of Central Kentucky are invited to the Arts Center’s Lunch with the Arts presentation on Wednesday, August 16th at 12pm. Two members of the PAACK group will provide an introduction to the plein air tradition, followed by artist demonstrations by several members of the group. The program costs $5 and advance registration is not required.

On Exhibit

En Plein Air – through August 26th

Monday through Saturday, 10am to 5pm.

New Hours effective August 21: Tuesday through Friday, 11am to 7pm. Saturday, 10am to 5pm. Exhibits closed Sunday and Monday.

Coming Up

Starry Night Studio: Franz Marc’s Blue Horses

Tuesday, August 22 | 6:30pm to 9:30pm | $35

Learn to paint like the masters! We’ll be studying – and recreating – Franz Marc’s gorgeous Blue Horses, originally painted in 1911. A professional artist will provide step-by-step instructions.

Clay Vessels for Beginners

Wednesdays, 4:30pm to 6:30pm

August 23 to October 4 | $200

Teens and Adults (Ages 14+)

In this fun and informative pottery class, you’ll learn the basics of working in clay and essential techniques to creating unique, hand-formed vessels.

Introduction to Printmaking

Wednesdays, 7:00pm to 9:00pm

August 23 to October 4 | $140

Teens and Adults (Ages 14+)

This class introduces students to the basics of printmaking, including image selection, block preparation and carving, and image transfer techniques. No drawing experience is required!

Wednesday Evening Wheel-Thrown Pottery

Wednesdays, 7pm to 9pm | August 23 to October 4

Teens and Adults (14+) | $200

Get centered and try your hand at the potter’s wheel! From forming to firing to your table, this beginning wheel throwing class will teach you how to take mud from the earth and turn it into a functional, artistic ware. 

Thursday Evening Wheel-Thrown pottery

Thursday, 7pm to 9pm | August 24 to October 5

Teens and Adults (14+) | $200

If you’ve always dreamed of learning to use a potter’s wheel, it doesn’t get any easier than this!

Beginner Ballroom Dance

Thursdays, 6pm to 7pm | $10 per class

Put on your dancing shoes! The type of dance step changes approximately every four weeks and you don’t need to have a partner! Practice your moves at a monthly Soiree.

Clay Jewelry

Saturdays, 11:30am to 12:30pm | August 26 to September 16

Teens and Adults (14+) | $85

Learn basic hand-building techniques to create unique, wearable works (necklaces, earrings, bracelets, brooches).

Altered Book Art

Tuesdays, 1pm to 3pm

August 29 & September 5 | $40

In this two-day workshop, students will explore the artistic possibilities of recycled book art, using collage and assemblage techniques to transform discarded books into personalized works of art.