When it comes to local art fairs, it is natural to first think of the mammoth event that chokes the streets of Ann Arbor. But one (nearby) community has found a way to use art to celebrate its quiet beauty and charm.
The Paint Dexter Plein Air Festival brings artists together for a six-day painting/art show in an outdoor setting. En plein air, French for “in the open air,” refers to the art of painting outside, on location, in natural light. Artists across the ages have trekked their field easels and palettes up hillsides and down river banks to capture their world firsthand, but painting en plein air hit peak popularity in the late 19th century during the Paris-based Impressionist movement. More than landscape painting, however, plein air also includes architecture, industrial sites or whatever draws the artist’s eye.
This is the sophomore year for the affair and already it has expanded by adding new events that cater to the artist but are also geared towards art lovers or those who just love a good community gathering.
The Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee organizes the event. The committee, decidedly Francophile, was established by the Dexter Village Council to bring attention to the development of those three elements. Committee Chair Victoria Schon said by catering to the artists, they are doing just that.
“More artists grow from a strong artists base. We want to help bolster the artistic community here,” she said.
It is not unusual to see artists armed with their supplies seated by the river, the old railroad station, in neighborhoods or any of the many picturesque nooks and locales throughout Dexter. “You start seeing the area through the artists’ eyes. I think it has created more pride in the community,” Schon said.
To aid the artists in selling their work, organizers have added an “Evening with the Artists” collectors party on Thursday, Aug. 14 from 5-8 pm. Patrons mingle with the artists while enjoying refreshments, wine and musical entertainment in the Monument Park tent. Artists will show what they have completed over the week. Schon notes that there is enough of a price range that even the most novice collector can walk away with a piece of original, locally set art.
Internationally acclaimed artist Kenneth Cadwaller will serve as a judge for the Wet Paint Silent Auction on Friday, furthering what Shon believes is a prestige to the event that will draw more artists. She anticipates roughly 50 artists will participate in the event.
Other new events to the festival include children’s entertainment and events like a “Paint in the Park” session on Wednesday and chalk art on Saturday.
Unlike other art fairs, Schon believes they are most successful due to their specific niche. “We don’t want to get too big.” Keep an eye on the coffee shop bulletin boards for a plein air sister festival flyer: Paint Dexter Trompe-l’oeil.
Wednesday, August 13 -Saturday, August 17 , Dexter 734-426-8303 dextermi.gov/news/paint-dexter-plein-air-festival