Beautiful Routt County on display for museum’s 2022 Plein Air event |

Beautiful Routt County on display for museum’s 2022 Plein Air event

Artist Nelia Harper paints the front of the Backdoor Sports-Wheels Bike Shop building on Yampa Street during the Steamboat Art Museum's 2019 Plein Air event.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today archive

The beautiful fall scenery of Routt County will be on full display next week as Steamboat Art Museum hosts its Plein Air 2022 event. The annual event brings 50 artists from across the country to Routt County to paint ‘en plein air’ – outside, in the moment.

The event will kick off on Saturday, Sept. 24, with the Quick Draw at the Farmer’s Market as each artist will set up their easel downtown on Yampa Street to paint for two hours. The paintings will then be framed, displayed and for sale at noon at the Steamboat Art Museum booth.

The Quick Draw event, now in its fourth year, has always been a favorite among locals and visitors.

“We expect great response from the public,” said Dancy St. John who is organizing the event and is the museum’s grant manager. “Sales are strong, vendors at the market love the buzz it creates, artists love the large audience, and patrons love that the event is easily accessible and free.”

Painting subjects in the past have included the market, the Yampa River, views of Howelsen Hill, and quintessential scenes of Steamboat buildings and storefronts.

The Quick Draw event kicks off a week of painting which includes days when artists have access to private ranches and historic properties, a sunset reception, which is a ticketed meet and greet with the artists at Alpine Mountain Ranch – and where artists will also sell a painting that they have done from somewhere on the property – and a “Paint the Town Day” in conjunction with Main Street Steamboat when artists will paint downtown.

On Friday, Sept. 30, a volunteer crew will hang over 200 paintings from the week at the museum. The paintings will be judged by this year’s guest judge Dan Young, as well as by representatives from sponsoring nonprofits, for Awards of Excellence. First, second, third place and two honorable mentions will be awarded by the judge during the opening reception and the exhibit will be on display until Nov. 5.

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According to St. John, the exhibition now brings in visitor numbers per month that are approaching those of exhibitions during the museum’s busiest months. As the event has grown throughout the years, it has gained the reputation of being not only well-organized, but able to inspire both the novice and professional artist with stunning painting locations.

Called “uniquely Steamboat,” the event serves to showcase Routt County’s beautiful scenery and friendly community through the eyes of the painters.

“As a very long time Steamboat resident with a long career in the arts, this week is a convergence of what I love,” said the museum’s executive director Betse Grassby. “There are so many wonderful artists painting this valley. The museum is then filled with over 200 paintings of my home community, each a unique view through the artists eyes. I always see so much of this valley a bit differently after each Plein Air event.”

For more information and to buy tickets for individual events, visit

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