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National Museum of Wildlife Art Hosted the 13th Annual Plein Air Fest, Etc.

June 27, 2024

The National Museum of Wildlife Art (NMWA) hosted Plein Air Fest, Etc. for its 13th year on Saturday, June 15, 2024. The event drew a crowd of over 600 attendees, surpassing attendance for the several years preceding.

This year’s event included two participation categories for the artists: plein air and al fresco. “Some artists want the full plein air experience—painting what they see in front of them at that moment—while others interpret it more broadly and enjoy painting outside using reference photos of their subject,” says Michelle Dickson the Museum’s Director of Programs and Events. “We wanted to accommodate both.” The plein air category allowed artists to paint any regional scene of their choice, and these artists received a canvas stamp prior to beginning their work. In contrast, participants in the al fresco category had no limitations on subject matter, and were permitted to begin prior to the start of the event window. The Best in Show award winner was chosen from the plein air participants, while the al fresco category was not judged.

Forty-two invited artists painted from NMWA’s Sculpture Trail, which offers stunning views of the National Elk Refuge. All artists were on the Sculpture Trail by 10 a.m. to finish their pieces live and in person. “This event is a community favorite, and for good reason! Not only does the public have the unique chance to watch plein air artists at work, but they also have the opportunity to purchase these newly created works,” says Museum Director Steve Seamons. At 12:15 p.m., all works created during the event were available via silent auction.

After active bidding, the sale came to a conclusion. Two of the most bid-on works were Melinda Ackerman’s Brother Rivals which sold for $4,100 and Amy Ringholz’s June and Pearl which sold for $4,000 and received 13 bids. The most heated bidding war was for Carole Keller’s Wild, Wild, Horses, which received 14 bids.

This year’s Best in Show award went to Andrew Kneeland of Rock Springs, WY for his 20 x 24 inch oil on canvas painting entitled Clarity. Depicting the Cathedral Group of the Tetons, Kneeland’s work was not only the judge’s favorite but also received numerous bids during the sale, selling for $1,600 after a starting price of $400. Aaron Cordell Johnson of Moscow, ID, received the runner-up accolade for Best in Show.

Sales totaled over $35,000 and all proceeds benefited the Museum and participating artists.

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