The Finger Lakes Plein Air Competition and Festival, now in its seventh year, offers opportunities for the community to learn more about the contemporary plein air painting movement in their own backyard.
About 40 artists from across the U.S. and Canada will set up their easels on roadsides and in parks and fields June 5-10 to paint works that will be judged and sold. The event ends with a free public exhibition of the work June 10 at Sonnenberg Gardens, 151 Charlotte St., Canandaigua.
Sponsored in part by Ontario County Arts Council, the festival takes its name from the French term for “open air.” Many well-known vistas, including the lookout over Canandaigua Lake on County Road 12 in South Bristol and the gazebo in Kershaw Park, are among places artists choose to paint. Local residents can register on the festival website to give artists access to some of the region’s lesser-known sights.
Artists must apply to attend and be accepted by a panel of local judges. Local artists accepted into the festival include Geoffrey Wittig, of Dansville; Kari Ganoung Ruiz, of Interlaken; Cindy Harris, of Bloomfield; Steve BonDurant, of Macedon; and Judy Soprano of Rochester. Ruiz won best in show at the 2017 festival.
Kenneth DeWaard, of Hope, Maine, has practiced plein air painting for 30 years. He will travel to Canandaigua to judge paintings the artists complete during the festival. He will hold a three-day workshop June 11-13.
The competition starts with the artists’ arrival on June 5. The first major event is Paint Out Along the Canandaigua Wine Trail on June 7, with freshly painted works on sale from 6 to 8 p.m. at Hazlitt’s Red Cat Cellars, 1 Lake Niagara Lane, Naples. The expansion into Naples last year was so successful that organizers included it in this year’s event.
The activity returns to Canandaigua on June 8 with an evening talk by Steve Doherty, former editor of Plein Air magazine, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Ferris Hills at West Lake, 1 Ferris Hills, Canandaigua. Tickets cost $15, and are available by phone and at Pat Rini Rohrer Gallery, 71 S. Main St., Canandaigua.
The festival wraps up with the quick draw competition from 9:30 to 11 a.m. June 9 at Commons Park, 150 S. Main St., Canandaigua, and Community Paint Out for local and regional artists from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 9. Community Paint Out takes place in a defined area of Canandaigua, with judging and a show and sale at First Congregational Church, 58 N. Main St., Canandaigua.
The preview party and exhibit, a ticketed event featuring a cash bar and light fare, gives attendees a chance to purchase the artwork created during the competition from 6 to 9 p.m. June 9 at Sonnenberg Gardens. Entry to the public exhibit and sale on June 10 is free, with food available for purchase.
Volunteers are needed to help set up and run events and answer questions about the festival. Call 585-394-0030, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit fingerlakespleinair.com for information.