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National Museum of Wildlife Art to Host 12th Annual Plein Air Fest, Etc.

June 8, 2023

The National Museum of Wildlife Art (NMWA) will host Plein Air Fest, Etc. for its 12th year on Saturday, June 17, 2023. This event is free and open to the public from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., including access to the Museum galleries.

Nearly 50 invited artists will paint from NMWA’s Sculpture Trail, which offers stunning views of the National Elk Refuge. Attendees are invited to browse and bid on the fresh artworks in a silent auction, taking place from 12:15 – 1 p.m. “This event is an incredible opportunity for artists and the community to come together. It’s not often that you get to watch an artwork come to life, from blank canvas to finished product–with the added bonus of being able to bid on said work!” says Museum Director Steve Seamons. All proceeds will benefit the Museum and participating artists. The event also includes live music from Batdorf & The Brother Wolf and food for purchase from Palate restaurant, ending at 1:30 p.m.

Andrew Kneeland, the 2021 Best in Show Winner, plans to return this year, as do Wendell Field, Katy Ann Fox, Fred Kingwill, and Bart Walker, all of whom have participated in the event for multiple years. “These artists are popular with the community and, over the years, have made this event a truly inviting and uplifting experience,” says Michelle Dickson, the Museum’s Director of Programs and Events. The 12th Annual Plein Air Fest, Etc. also includes several renowned Western Visions (NMWA’s annual fall show + sale) artists like Patricia A. Griffin, Amy Ringholz, Kathryn Mapes Turner, and others.

This year’s event will include 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 Dickson. “We wanted to accommodate both.” The plein air category allows artists to paint any regional scene of their choice, and they may begin their painting anywhere in the vicinity, while participants in the al fresco category have no limitations on subject matter. The Best in Show award winner will be chosen from the plein air participants while the al fresco category is not judged.

All artists will be on the Sculpture Trail by 10 a.m. to finish their piece live and in person. All of the works created during the event, whether in the plein air or the al fresco category, will be available to buy via silent auction beginning at 12:15 p.m.

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