The Splendid Plein Air Festival
Imagine you are enjoying one of Sedona’s beautiful, serene hiking trails. Distinctive red and orange rock formations all around you contrast sharply with green, high desert flora and the commanding blue sky. As you come around a bend, you suddenly spot the first people you’ve seen since you left the trailhead. They’re standing next to a prickly pear grove. One of them is laboring intensely at an easel. Six or eight others are huddled deferentially behind her, watching intently.
You’ve just stumbled onto the annual Sedona Plein Air Festival, a paintapalooza-style event that showcases artists from all over the country. What a fresco is to dining, plein air is to painting: the act and the art of completing a painting, start to finish, out of doors, in one shot. Paint what you see wherever you are. Then go home, completed piece in hand.
For one glorious week, from October 19th-26th, you can participate in classes and workshops, watch live competition, and attend a number of gala events celebrating plein air painting and its many practitioners. You can view a world class exhibit of plein air paintings at the home of the festival’s parent organization, the Sedona Arts Center.
It’s a thrill to catch painters in the act almost anywhere you go. As you browse shops in Uptown, stroll the banks of Oak Creek or head down a Forest Service trail, you will see the creative process unfolding, often for the benefit of students gathered round to learn the tricks of the trade.
Day One gets things started with a bang, as all the invited artists take part in the frenzied Paint Out, a shootout with brushes from 1:30-4:00 pm along the highway in Uptown Sedona. The work is juried and then immediately offered for sale on the sidewalk in front of the Arts Center. You can see past winners at the website, sedonapleinairfestival.com.
A handful of Native American themed events will make this year’s festival especially intriguing. On Thursday, October 24th, the Arts Center is organizing a tour to Montezuma’s Well to hear creation stories of the Yavapai Apache Tribe. A speaker from the tribe will discuss paintings composed at the Well and share the history of this sacred site. The Sedona Film Festival’s Mary D Fisher Theatre will feature an exhibition that afternoon of paintings created at Native American legacy sites. In the evening, New Mexico artist Tony Abeyta will give a talk and digital presentation entitled “Ancient Questions and the New Face of Native American Painting.”
For anyone interested in fine art, either casually, professionally or simply as an admirer, the Plein Air Festival is a deeply satisfying experience. You may rekindle dormant skills or gain confidence in your technique at one of the many workshops. Artist or not, you will feel inspired by the high quality work on display. You might get acquainted with an artist whose wonderful work you “discover.” And you may just finish your holiday gift shopping with a few amazing finds.
Blog contributed by Tod, Concierge at Sedona Real Inn
For accommodation and festival information, please contact our concierge team (Tod and Debbie) at 800-353-1239. They can make all your tours, dining and activities reservations. We are offering some great specials for two, three or more night stays. You can also go to: www.sedonareal.com to make a reservation. We hope to see you soon!