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Artists converge on city to paint outdoors

Bob Hodges-Bonawitz completed “From Sorin’s Bluff” at last year’s Plein Air Festival.

Painting in the open air is the meaning for the French word Plein Air.

No matter the weather, plein air artists will be painting in and around Red Wing the week of June 23.

“This year we have 32 featured artists who will participate in themed painting events during the week. We have a wonderful mix of returning artists and first time participants in our Plein Air festival,” Red Wing Arts Association Executive Director Dan Guida said.  

The weeklong event is an opportunity for artists to enjoy painting in the outdoors, explained RWAA Assistant Director Arlene Roth, adding it also provides area residents the thrill of seeing artists painting.

“Every year, we have people come to see the show who hover by a painting talking about how they watched the artist creating the piece,” she said.

How it works

The 32 featured artists gather at 9 a.m. Monday June 23 at the Red Wing Depot Gallery for a welcome breakfast and announcements.

From there, the painters are “set loose on the community” Roth said, painting scenes throughout the week at a handful of outdoor locations.

The featured artists can enter up to three paintings for award consideration.

An open class is also offered for those interested in painting in a plein air event. Participants have until 10 a.m. Monday June 23 to register for the open class.


Plein Air Judge Richard Abraham will do a free oil painting demonstration from 10 a.m. to noon Monday June 23 in the Festival Tent. Abraham was the winner of last year’s show.

On Wednesday, June 25, local blues band Back Channel Blues performs live for the Concert in the Park series at the Central Park Band Shell. The concert starts at 7 p.m. — don’t forget your chairs, blankets and snacks. Plein Air artists will be introduced at intermission.

RWAA holds the Riverside Cocktail Reception Friday June 27. Tickets are $50 and the price is applicable to the purchase of one piece of plein air art between 7 and 9 p.m. This is the first viewing of the artwork created during the week. Light hors d’oeuvres, refreshments and live music are part of the event. Winners will be announced at 8 p.m.

Culminating the Plein Air Art and Music Festival is the two-hour Quick Paint, set for Saturday, June 28. Artists have their painting boards stamped by 9 a.m. and begin painting with the ring of the bell until the closing bell rings at 11 a.m.

The finished works will be hung immediately in the Depot Gallery Plein Air show where they are judged. Winners will be announced that afternoon.

Art classes

The week offers two children’s art classes taught by James Zotalis on Tuesday, June 24 and Susan McClean-Keeny on Thursday, June 26 and includes an artist picnic at the Izaac Walton site, a sunset paint, painting in the park and more.

A watercolor class conducted by Spencer Meagher, plein air painter from Illinois is Wednesday June 25. There is a $10 fee for the three-hour class.

A complete listing of events, painting sites, demonstrations, classes and themes can be found at

Red Wing Arts Association is committed to a focus on promoting the arts and support of the creative community in Red Wing and the surrounding area. 

For further information contact 651-388-7569 or