Red Wing Arts is once again taking art out of the gallery and into the community with the 13th annual Plein Air Festival.
June 17-22 more than two dozen artists who enjoy painting outdoors - "en plein air" - will set up easels in parks, along the riverfront and on city streets so they can paint scenic vistas and structures.
The week will culminate in awards, a Quick Paint contest, a Children's Paint Out and the opening of an exhibition featuring the best of their work, all at the Depot Gallery.
Judge for the competition is Dan Mondloch of St. Cloud.
A new nighttime feature has been added to this year's festival, according to Executive Director Emily Guida Foos and Program Coordinator Lacy Schumann. Also new, Red Wing Arts will set up painting stations around town so local residents can try their hand at painting in the open air.
Twenty-seven local and regional artists were juried into the featured class competition, Schumann said. There also will be an open class with at least 10 participants.
Artists will begin painting Monday morning, June 17, after having their boards stamped to identify them as part of Red Wing's 2019 competition.
Most artists will bring several boards because they have the whole week to paint, Schumann said, although each featured artist can submit only three paintings for judging plus a Quick Paint entry.
"There's a lot of energy" as they head out, Schumann said.
The arts group will provide information about popular locations such as He Mni Can/Barn Bluff, historic neighborhoods and river overlooks. However, Foos said, they can select their own spots.
"Artists enjoy the freedom to find a scene that captures their perspective of Red Wing," she explained.
Many of them have participated in the Red Wing Arts event in past years, officials added. "It's almost a community of artists," Foos said. "They travel to plein air competitions all summer."
Early morning and early evening are the most popular hours for painting outdoors, Schumann said, because of the lighting.
The competition requires that paintings be completely done in the outdoors, even though it may mean working in changing weather as well as changing light. Rain can be a problem, especially for oil painters.
People who want to watch the artists at work can check with Red Wing Arts or Facebook. "If they want to be found, they will let us know where they will be painting," she said.
As in the past, all of the artists have been invited to paint in Central Park on Wednesday, June 19, during the Concert in the Park. Salsa del Sol will entertain at 7 p.m.
The new event is "Painting the Night Scene" starting at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 20. Artists will be painting at the Staghead, Oliver's, Kelly's, 223 Barrel House and Red Wing Brewery.
"It's skirting the parameters of plein air," Foos said. "But it's still a live scene," Schumann noted. These paintings will not be part of the competition or the Plein Air Festival Exhibit, but they will be for sale and they will be displayed.
The idea was to expand the event into a different crowd, exposing the art form and awareness of the event to a new group of people, Foos said. It also will connect the artists with potential buyers, Schumann added.
"One thing the Plein Air Festival offers the community," Foos said, "is that it takes art out of the gallery and makes it accessible to everybody."
More than 100 paintings that essentially create a pictorial documentation of the community will be created during the festival. Over the years plein air artists have documented many disappearing images, from Main Street reconstruction to the Eisenhower Bridge that is being replaced.
Artists have until noon Friday, June 21, to turn in three framed, "gallery-ready" paintings at the Depot, which will be closed to the public. Once volunteers have hung them, Mondloch will select the winners and honorable mentions.
The Plein Air Awards reception and "First Glimpse" will be Friday evening at the Depot. Voting for People's Choice will be from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Cost is $25 for heavy appetizers, wine, music and the first opportunity to see and purchase the new paintings.
"It is a big night of sales," Foos said.
Mondloch will announce the winners at 7 p.m. More than $2,000 in cash awards, supported in part by the Guida and Veeder family memorials, will be presented. Honors include the Dan Guida Award, Best in Show, Outdoor Painters of Minnesota Best Sense of Place, and People's Choice.
Open Class artists can participate throughout the week. Their paintings are not judged and they are not eligible for prize money, but each artist can submit one painting for display. The artwork will be for sale.
This class generally attracts three types of artists - people who cannot commit to the entire week, developing artists who want to mentor alongside experienced plein air artists, and artists who want to experiment with plein air.
Saturday, June 22, will be the final day of artistic activities. Both featured and open class artists will participate in a Quick Paint from 9 to 11 a.m. An air horn will sound to signal the beginning and the end, so painters must stay fairly close to the Depot, Foos said.
From 10 a.m. to noon will be the Kids Paint Out, a free event for children who want to try outdoor painting. Paint and paper will be available, plus volunteers to assist.
The Plein Air Festival Exhibit - including Quick Paint entries ‑ will open to the public from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Depot Gallery.
The artworks will be displayed through July 28. The gallery is open seven days a week during the summer.
Because the plein air paintings of local scenes see the biggest sales of the year for Red Wing Arts, and because many of the artists create more than three paintings, plans are being made to display additional artwork in the mezzanine gallery at the Sheldon Theatre.
For more information, call 651-388-7569 or visit the Depot Gallery at 418 Levee St.