Plein Air show opens at Gallery

August 31, 2005

The Columbia Center for the Arts in Hood River hosts the opening of its September art show, Pacific Northwest Plein Air 2005, from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday at the Columbia Art Gallery.

For five days beginning last Thursday, more than 30 artists from around the region participated in a “paint-out,” gathering at five different locations around the Gorge to paint the surrounding landscapes. Their work will be on display for the month of September in a show juried by reknowned plein-air artist Kenn Backhaus. Backhaus will be on hand at the opening Friday. In addition, a dozen invited writers participated in the event, and their writings will be on display at the gallery in conjunction with the artists’ work.

More than $1,800 in prizes will be awarded to the winning artists.

“Plein-air” is French for “in the outside air,” so “plein air painting” means “painting outside.”

Cathleen Rehfeld, curator for the show said, “We’re extremely pleased with the results we’re seeing. Gorge artists will be painting along with artists from the Portland and Vancouver metropolitan areas, and with artists from as far away as Phoenix, Ariz., and Pacific Grove, Calif.” Rehfeld said organizers are already beginning to plan for the next plein-air event.

“We think that events like these can help the Gorge become a destination place for the arts, just as it is already a destination place for sports and the great outdoors,” she said.

Backhaus is one of the most renowned plein-air artists in the country, and is a signature member of both the Oil Painters of America and the Plein-Air Painters of America. In addition to jurying the show, Backhaus will conduct a plein-air workshop Sept. 5-9 in various locations.

Judie Hanel, Executive Director for the Columbia Center for the Arts, said, “This show has the potential to be one of our premier shows for years to come. After all, what more beautiful a place is there to paint in, than in and around the Columbia River Gorge?”

Sponsors include: Pheasant Valley Winery, Dr. Allan and Kae Henderson, Art Media Art Supplies, Gamblin Paint Company, Plein Air Magazine, Skamania Lodge, Waucoma Bookstore, Hood River Stationers, Jean’s @ 110, and the Hood River Chamber of Commerce.

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