Outdoors in 'plein' air

GCA's Celebration of Art opening reception Saturday

Artist Linda Glover Gooch doing a demo on Sept. 9. Submitted Photo

Artist Linda Glover Gooch doing a demo on Sept. 9. Submitted Photo

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - The Grand Canyon Association (GCA) is pleased to announce the fourth annual Grand Canyon Celebration of Art at Grand Canyon National Park, through Nov. 25, with an opening reception Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at historic Kolb Studio at the South Rim. This event features 26 artists from around the country who have created a studio piece for the exhibition and will paint plein air during the week before the exhibit opens.

"The variety of events during the Celebration of Art offers something for everyone, from the casual visitor to the serious art collector to the art-loving visitor, who does not expect to find an art event of this scope and quality at the Grand Canyon," GCA's Kathy Duley said. "The goal of the event, raising funds to establish a permanent art venue at the South Rim which will enhance the visitors' experience and allow an extraordinary art collection to be viewed on a continuous basis, is also unique."

Plein air is fine art terminology meaning the quality of light and atmosphere out of doors, especially this quality as rendered in painting. This term is characterized by the representation of the luminous effects of natural light and atmosphere as contrasted with the artificial light and absence of the sense of air or atmosphere associated with paintings produced inside a studio. In other words, plein air is designating a painting executed outdoors and representing a direct response to the scene or subject in front of the artist.

Through today, visitors to the Grand Canyon will have the opportunity to watch artists paint plein air as they seek to represent the shifting light and shadow, amazing landforms and vibrant colors of this vast landscape.

These "quick draw" paintings will then all be auctioned off at Kolb Studio, where the rest of the artists' pieces created during this first week will be on display and available for purchase as well.

Long before there was color photography, artists like Thomas Moran and Gunner Widfoss contributed to capturing the beauty and mystery of the Grand Canyon through art. It was their paintings that helped communicate to the world the need for preservation of such a special place.

In 2009, the Grand Canyon Association rejuvenated this idea and brought artists to the South Rim for a week of painting and appreciation of art in the Canyon. Today, Celebration of Art exposes tens of thousands of people to live artist renderings at Grand Canyon. It has become the model for outdoor art events in National Parks.

"This year we have added artists at Phantom Ranch and Indian Garden in addition to artists on the North and South Rims," Duley said. "Also, having the exhibit at historic Kolb Studio is very special and unique. Plein air work is displayed in the charming, rim-hanging Kolb residence, which is usually only open to the public through National Park Service tours, during the opening days of the exhibit. The mix of plein air work and studio work also adds a special element to the exhibit, demonstrating the scope of work these artists do."

These plein air demonstrations will be along the rim adjacent to El Tovar at 4 p.m. through today. Artist plein air demonstrations will be at the North Rim Lodge at 5:30 p.m. through today. Tomorrow, from dawn until 10 a.m. artists will be painting along the South Rim between Mather Point and Kolb Studio, followed by a special evening presentation at the Shrine of Ages at 7 p.m.

The "quick draw" competition will be on Friday from 9-11 a.m. with artists painting along the South Rim between Mather Point and Kolb Studio. Following the quick draw competition will be the auction of the paintings at noon on the north lawn of El Tovar. The evening closes out with a buyer's preview and awards reception at Kolb Studio from 7-9 p.m.

The opening reception and awards ceremony will be held today from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Kolb Studio.

In addition to collectors and art appreciators who attend the Celebration, the GCA has many artists interested in developing their skills in painting the Canyon. To accommodate that interest, from Sept. 16-21, award-winning artist Linda Glover Gooch will teach a Grand Canyon Field Institute/Scottsdale Artists' School Plein Air Painting Workshop on the South Rim.

Duley said the idea of including a workshop with the Celebration of Art was under discussion for a few years and this year the organization was fortunate to establish a relationship with Scottsdale Artists School, which holds over 100 workshops a year at their Scottsdale location, at off-site location around the country as well as the world.

"Linda has been one of the Celebration artists for all four years and has taught workshops at Scottsdale Artists' School for many years," Duley said. "We are already talking with Scottsdale Artists' School about offering more workshops next year. Linda Glover Gooch's workshop sold out as soon as it was announced."

Exhibition and sale of artwork will begin Saturday until Nov. 25 at Kolb Studio. Kolb Studio is located along the Rim Trail in Grand Canyon Village, 200 yards west of Bright Angel Lodge.

The GCA will be reviewing new artists for 2013 later on this fall. Duley said potential candidates will have painted the Grand Canyon before and understand the challenges it presents.

"A few of this year's artists have participated all four years, some in one or two previous years, and six are new this year. One, Larry Moore, is from Orlando, Florida," Duley said. "We try to mix it up a little to keep it fresh, but also want some continuity and favorites that visitors come back to see."

Proceeds from this event will support the goal of funding an art venue at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. This permanent home will ensure that future generations of park visitors will be able to view the stunning art collection in the Grand Canyon National Park Museum and Grand Canyon Association Collections.

Arizona Public Service and the Grand Canyon Association, with major support from the Gumbo Foundation and Xanterra Parks and Resorts, present the fourth annual Grand Canyon Celebration of Art. Xanterra Parks and Resorts will cater the opening reception.

For more information, updates, and a full listing of all artists visit www.grandcanyon.org/celebration.asp or contact Kathy Duley at (480) 277-0458 or kduley@grandcanyon.org. For additional information about the Grand Canyon Association and its programs visit www.grandcanyon.org.

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