2018-08-09 / Outdoors

Meet nationally renowned artists at your favorite county sights

A plein air art festival


PASTEL ARTIST Jane Ditri will be joined by 14 other regional artists next week to paint in the inaugural Paint Grand Traverse: A Plein Air Affair. Leelanau Paint Out locations will include local wineries, Sleeping Bear, Fishtown and 9 Bean Rows Farmstead. PASTEL ARTIST Jane Ditri will be joined by 14 other regional artists next week to paint in the inaugural Paint Grand Traverse: A Plein Air Affair. Leelanau Paint Out locations will include local wineries, Sleeping Bear, Fishtown and 9 Bean Rows Farmstead. The summer season may be winding down, but the momentum of plein air artists creating art in Leelanau County will only increase in the coming days.

The inaugural six-day plein air painting festival will kick off Monday with Paint Grand Traverse — A Plein Air Affair.

The event is being sponsored by the Crooked Tree Arts Center (CTAC).

“Paint Grand Traverse has been several years in the making, and we’re so thrilled to finally bring it to our northern Michigan community,” said Liz Ahrens, CTAC Executive Director.

The week-long festival will feature paint out events in the most scenic locations northern Michigan has to offer, including Leelanau County with Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Fishtown and its vineyards. Also sure to be re-created are scenes on Old Misison Peninsula, and in Traverse City and Elk Rapids.

“Those who live here know this area’s beauty and don’t debate it,” Ahrens said of Leelanau County. “There is a combination of orchards and vineyards, unique small towns and different varieties of landscapes that create truly endless possibilities for artists.”

In addition to 44 award-winning national artists arriving for the event, Ahrens said 15 distinguished local artists will participate as well.

“We created a list of phenomenal artists that have done outdoor painting festivals across the country and put a unique spin on it by also having regional artists apply,” Ahrens said.

The national artists will be traveling from as far as Florida and Texas, while local favorites including Jane Ditri of Centerville Township will have a much shorter commute.

For Ditri, painting plein air has become natural.

“Painting outdoors is always a wonderful experience,” she said. “Actually sitting there and becoming familiar with the scene is so special as an artist.”

A regular participant in local plein air events, Ditri will soon put her talent to use in one with a national flavor.

“There has never been a really big national plein air event in Leelanau or Grand Traverse,” Ditri said. “I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to meet other artists coming from many different places.”

Regardless of from where artists hail, Ahrens is confident in their abilities with a brush.

“For plein air artists, a week-long festival is like their Olympics,” she said. “They have to paint outside for five days, no matter the weather or scenery. It takes a very unique artist that doesn’t limit themselves to a studio and we fortunately had a phenomenal response to our invitations.”

So what drew high caliber artists to accept an invitation for an inaugural event?

Ahrens credits the venue.

“When an artist looks into this region, whether if be the food, wine, beer or beautiful scenery that pops up, the people that have never been here before say, ‘I want to be a part of this.’”

And Ahrens hopes visitors and locals will have similar inclinations. All plein air paint out excursions are open to the public for viewing.

“We’re presenting art as a spectator sport,” Ahrens said. “We want people to go out, meet the artists and talk to them. Those artists do this because they like to be out and talking to people, capturing the different perspectives they have to offer.”

Ditri agreed, saying that she’s always happy to talk to a visitor — if she’s not under time pressure.

The festival seeks to raise the awareness of visual arts.

“In our area, the Film Festival heightens the film industry and Interlochen’s concerts highlight music,” Ahrens said. “Visual arts have never really had a long outdoor art fair to raise awareness of all artists in the region and spotlight artists that come to this area.”

The week-long festival will kick off Monday with paint out artists stationed at iconic locations in the Land of Delight, including Fishtown, Ciccone Vineyards and 9 Bean Rows Farmstead. The day will conclude at 7:30 p.m. with a Sunset Paint Out at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Then on Wednesday, the festival will host an ode to Leelanau Peninsula Wineries, with artists capturing the landscape at Black Star Farms, Verterra Winery and L. Mawby. That afternoon, Fountain Point Resort on Lake Leelanau will host a two-hour Quick Draw competition beginning at 4 p.m. Artists will compete for cash awards, and a quick sale will follow immediately.

The week-long event will conclude next Saturday with the Gala and Celebration Sale at Crooked Tree Arts Center – Traverse City. The sale is the only opportunity to view and purchase the paintings created during Paint Grand Traverse week, and will also feature food, wine and live music to celebrate the inaugural event.

A complete list of locations is available at www.paintgrandtraverse.com/ events.

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