Sunday, July 31, 2011

2011 DOOR COUNTY PLEIN AIR FESTIVAL - How To Stage a Perfect Event

Having participated in many Plein Air events, it's easy to see why the Door County Plein Air Festival organizers at the Peninsula School of Art in Fish Creek, WI have become one of the top events in the nation. The highly dedicated women who facilitate this event seem to clearly see what makes it all work and the 2011 festival produced enormous results. At the time of this posting, sales increased by 44% over 2010 with 207 paintings sold in the first two days.

Several years ago, Christin had received an invitation from Cinnamon Rossman (the event director) but had declined to attend due to the distance and lack of knowledge of the area or event. Last year our friends Carole Gray-Weihman and Al Tofanelli described thier incredible experience to us, so we contacted Cinnamon and we were invited to participate in the 2011 event.
Clearly the Door County Plein Air Festival has developed huge support from the local community and from around the Midwest metropolitan areas who vacation there each year and take advantage of the summer recreational opportunities this unique Lake Michigan spot offers. Building support of the community is one of the main ingredients for success in any event. Building the knowledge base about creating and collecting fine art is crucial. In addition to the schools schedule of classes and website offerings, they provide weeklong opportunities for the "Palette Pass" holders (who are invited to all of the weeks events) to be involved. There was a meet the artists night dinner held lakeside on Monday, A sunset paint-out in Sister Bay on the waterfront with catered food and drinks, the Gala for collectors was held on Friday night, a quick draw at the waterfront on Saturday and a public opening reception on Saturday night. In addition, throughout the week, artists were asked to sign up for specific locations so that the public could come and watch the painters work. Everyone was so excited to see the weeklong results from the artists, that paintings were simply flying off the walls at the Gala and this energy continued into the next day.

Another major component for the success of this event was the selection of hi-caliber talent. Although I work for Plein Air Magazine and am familiar with many of the nationally acclaimed plein air artists, there were many artists here that have not reached a national stage, yet were exceptional talents. Tom Nachreiner, Mat Barber Kennedy, Frank Gardner, Mark Boedges, Stuart Fullerton, Jim Hempel, Brian Sindler, John Stuart Pryce and William Suys were among those who I admired but had not known and they joined some of my favorites who have achieved a larger audience like Marc Hanson, Colin Page, Joshua Been, Jim Markle, Shelby Keefe, Debra Joy Groesser, Kim Casebeer, Mary Garrish and Ulrich Gleiter. Other artists who haven't been mentioned here also worked hard and deserve mention, but then I would just be listing everyone.

Door County is a gem. The beauty of this peninsula that juts out into the enormous Lake Michigan provides a wealth of painting subjects. We were thrilled to be part of this event and took away lasting memories. Here are some more photos of the area.

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