Painting by Rob Adamson
Fresh air is often credited for calming the nerves, sparking ideas and recharging the mind, body and soul. It’s no surprise that creatives would gravitate to this easily accessible muse. A technique known as plein air painting takes the artist out of the studio and into the environment of their subject. Master artists like Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir were plein air painters. The term is derived from the French phrase, “en plein air,” meaning “open air.” Armed with a canvas, brushes, a field easel—or better yet, the collapsible French box easel, which has compartments to store paint and brushes that conveniently straps onto one’s back—a plein air artist can paint literally anywhere, from the rolling countryside to the deep woods, from riversides to the sides of the road.
Catching these artists in the act of scenic painting could be a full-time hobby, but luckily for you, on July 15, the Plein Air Painters of Utah will create and exhibit their work at the 15th Street Gallery. Artists will arrive between 3 and 4 p.m., check in with the gallery and then venture out into the neighborhood around 1500 East and 1500 South. “This neighborhood is incredibly friendly and welcoming,” 15th Street Gallery Art Director Lucy Heller says. “The residents and the businesses get very excited to have the artists here. They are proud of their neighborhood and their homes, and they love opportunities to showcase this community and engage with the artists.” The small business district known as 15th and 15th is abuzz from the early-morning bagel runs at Einstein’s to the Friday-night live music on the patio of Caputo’s on 15th. Combine the energy of a bustling community, light flickering through tree-covered streets and what most would call a rare glimpse of the American dream—only Mother Nature could stage this perfect kind of scenery.
The Plein Air Painters of Utah is a member-based organization with a mission to “create, promote and educate the public regarding plein air painting while strengthening the camaraderie and carrying on the traditions of painting in the outdoors.” Membership in this group is regulated by an internal nominating process by practicing professional plein air artists. Needless to say, the work produced by this organization is of the highest caliber, and while one look at their Facebook photos will tell you that they have fun doing what they do, they are also very serious about their craft. Currently, their membership includes just under 40 of the best and most prolific plein air painters of Utah. This year, joining the event will be the 15th Street Gallery’s own artists, many of whom produce plein air works along with their studio pieces. Artists working side by side will create pieces throughout the evening as the sun sets. Finished work will be available for view and purchase inside the gallery.
This month’s pick is the embodiment of what Gallery Stroll is meant to be: a breath of fresh air. For a complete list of Gallery Stroll participants, peep the Salt Lake Gallery Stroll Association website at gallerystroll.org.