Adirondack Plein Air Festival opens Monday

“Last Twist of the Night,” 2016 Nocturne Contest winner by Kari Ganoung-Ruiz, Interlaken

SARANAC LAKE — The 9th annual Adirondack Plein Air Festival opens Monday, Aug. 14 and culminates with a show and sale of paintings produced at the event on Saturday, Aug 19.

Sponsored by Saranac Lake ArtWorks, there will be four-and-a-half days of painting, a special preview party on Friday, Aug. 18, and then the Saturday, Aug. 19 event, held in the Harrietstown Town Hall, which is free and open to the public, from noon to 5 p.m.

New in 2017, will be a special exhibit of paintings done on Eagle Island, the former Girl Scout camp on Upper Saranac Lake. Artists have often been called upon to create “art for a cause” — artwork that is used to draw attention to a specific place or event.

In this case, it was decided to offer the Friends of Eagle Island a donation from the sales of any Eagle Island paintings, in return for boat transportation to and from the island for the artists.

For this initial event, a small group of about 10 artists, mostly the local ones participating in the festival, have been invited to take part.

There will be a $100 prize donated by the Friends. If this is a successful endeavor, there may be a special Eagle Island plein air event in the future with a larger number of artists to take part.

Fifty accomplished artists, from all over the country, are taking part in the 2017 Adirondack Plein Air Festival, juried in from 90 who initially applied back in the winter. Three professional plein air artists, former Awards Jurors John MacDonald and Anne Diggory and Sarah Yeoman, made the selections from digital submissions.

The artists will compete for over $5,000 in prizes, including a first place award of $1,000 cash and additional merchandise and gift certificates for a total value of over $2,200.

All of the previous first place winners will be attending: Diane Leifheit, Gabriels, who won in 2010, the first year ArtWorks gave out prizes; Nikolay Mikushkin, Syracuse, who won in 2011; Crista Pisano, Nyack, winner in both 2012 and 2014; George Van Hook, Cambridge, also a two-time winner in 2013 and 2016; and Eberhard Froehlich, of Montreal, who received the 2015 award.

Fifteen of the artists attending this year are totally new to the event and perhaps new to the Adirondacks, with one coming all the way from Florida.

Artists check in on Monday, Aug. 14 and can begin painting that evening, at sundown, for the Nocturne Contest sponsored by the NorthWind Fine Arts Gallery, 11 Woodruff St.

A nocturne is a painting done after the sun goes down, and can be done in the dark, working with headlamps and painting under street lights and store signs. Those paintings will be on display at the Gallery as artists finish and submit them, through Saturday evening Aug. 19. The winner will be awarded a prize on Thursday Aug. 17 at 5 p.m., during the Third Thursday ArtWalk.

On Tuesday, Aug. 15, all the artists will be painting on the trails at the Paul Smith’s College VIC. This is the perfect place for spectators to come watch as there are many painting spots just a short walk down the Heron Marsh and Barnum Brook trails, as well as from the deck of the building. Currently on display at the VIC are works by Eberhardt Froehlich, who won the prize for the best VIC/College painting at the 2016 Festival. Many artists will probably stay and paint the evening views at the VIC as well.

On Wednesday, Aug. 16, artists are free to choose any locations. A Plein Air Festival publication provides a map and list of suggested locations. Included are the Adirondack Loj Road, Lake Placid, Route 86 along the Ausable River, John Brown’s Farm, the Norman Ridge area, Eagle Island, Gabriels, Rainbow Laken and just about any place that strikes an artist’s fancy.

Thursday, Aug. 17 is the “Paint the Town” Day, where the artists are expected to paint in the village of Saranac Lake. Artists will be asked to donate a small painting for the “Paint the Town” Silent Auction, which will be set up in the Adirondack Artists Guild Gallery, 52 Main St., by 5 p.m. Proceeds from the auction get shared with the Saranac Lake Central School District art program. It’s also a Third Thursday ArtWalk, so the village will have an abundance of art and live music well into the evening.

On Friday, Aug. 18, the artists will paint the Saranac River in the morning, at locations like the Fish and Game Club and along the Bloomingdale Road. By 2 p.m., they have to deliver their framed paintings to the Harrietstown Town Hall where they will be hung in the auditorium. The 2017 Awards Juror is nationally known Vermont artist Aline Ordman and she will select the prize winners that afternoon. A special preview party opens at 6 p.m.

Admission is $20 per person and will include food and beverages. Awards will be announced about 8 p.m.

On Saturday, Aug. 19, the show and sale in the Town Hall opens at noon and there is no admission fee. There could be 400 to 500 fresh, wet paintings depicting our beautiful Adirondacks! The artists are invited to take part in a “Quick Draw” Competition in the morning. They need to paint in the village and will have between 10 am and noon to create a painting. At noon they will bring their framed painting and easel to the front of the Town Hall and set up a display, where a winner will be selected and announced around 12:30 p.m.