Yampa Valley beauty on display for this year’s Plein Air event
Fifty artists from Steamboat Springs and across the country will gather in the Yampa Valley this weekend for Steamboat Art Museum’s annual Plein Air event. The event, which has been in existence for over a decade, brings both amateur and professional artists to Steamboat to paint “en plein air,” meaning outdoors, on the spot.
The week-long event will kick off Friday, offering artists several opportunities to paint at different locations throughout Routt County during the course of the event.
Saturday’s event, Quick Draw at the Farmers Market, will see the artists setting up their easels downtown on Yampa Street between Fifth and 10th streets. They will paint for two hours in the morning, from 10 a.m. to noon, frame their paintings and sell them on the spot at the Main Street Steamboat Farmers Market.
On Monday, the artists will head south to Yampa to paint in various locations there. Two days later, they’ll be downtown for Main Street Day, painting iconic downtown scenes. On Wednesday evening, a reception will be held at Alpine Mountain Ranch and Club, offering the public a chance to meet the artists and purchase their work. Tickets for the event are $50 per person and include food and drink.
Award-winning Colorado artist Jane Hunt has been chosen as the featured artist for this year’s event. Hunt, who has won over 200 awards in exhibition competitions, will judge and select this year’s award winners. Additionally, her own work will be on display throughout the week.
Typically, each painter completes and submits three to five paintings over the course of the week. These works of art become part of the featured exhibit at Steamboat Art Museum, which will be on display for the next few weeks. The Plein Air event will close out Sept. 24 with a reception at the museum to celebrate the opening of the exhibit.
Over the past 10 years, the Plein Air event has grown significantly, said Betse Grassbe, executive director of Steamboat Art Museum.
“We have a solid reputation now,” she said. “Artists want to come to the Yampa Valley and paint here.”
Grassbe said the event provides camaraderie between artists, with the more seasoned artists mentoring the newer painters.
About one-quarter of the artists this year are local painters, including Mona Bedell who is participating in the event for the second year.
“I enjoyed it the first time that I participated,” Bedell said, “and I loved getting out and painting with other people.”
Bedell was relatively new to painting when she participated for the first time, and she appreciated learning from other painters.
“It was a learning experience,” she said. “It was good for me to paint with other people who were used to painting outdoors and knew what they were doing. But I think the biggest advantage to it is that you get to go places that you wouldn’t ordinarily go to.”
Several local families are allowing the painters access to their ranches and land as part of the event.
“We try to get artists out to places that the general public can’t necessarily go to,” said Dancy St. John, museum assistant and grants manager. “The event really highlights our heritage and history.”
The public will be able to see the painters in action several times throughout the week, beginning with the Quick Draw event at the Farmers Market on Saturday. Tickets to Wednesday’s reception at Alpine Mountain Ranch and Club are available online at SteamboatArtMuseum.org, and the exhibit will be on display with paintings for sale Sept. 26 to Nov. 6.
Sophie Dingle is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today. She can be reached through the editor.
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