June 22nd marks the beginning of the 10th and final Plein Air & More Festival weekend in Cannon Beach. Although it is only the second for Imprint Gallery, Mike and I have been involved in some capacity for the past four years. We see it as being the rather awkward pre-teen stepsister to the town's maturer and more confident festivals, Spring Unveiling and Stormy Weather. But there is beauty in awkwardness, and the potential of an idea not yet fully formed.
If you come expecting to experience a traditional Plein Air festival you will not be disappointed, but might be confused to see that Plein Air painting is not the only jewel in the event's crown. Many of the town's galleries, including Imprint Gallery, do not show many Plein Air painters - and so the "& More" was conceived. Cannon Beach's galleries show a great deal of fabulous "& More".
Imprint Gallery has invited Mark Andre to paint during the festival and will exhibiting his work along side a large cast of gallery artists. We will be hosting our annual "Focus on Ceramics". We will be featuring the work of sculptor Karen Croner and introducing jewelry to the gallery for the first time, with works by Catherine Grizes, Kay Seurat and Melanie West.
Mark Andre is happy to carry our banner as a Plein Air painter in the true meaning of the term. He works in situ and captures the sense of a place and a moment of time. I still struggle to call him a Plein Air painter because, for me, the term has become associated with a school of work - one from which his exuberant mark making and vibrant color excludes him. He is not engaged with the true rendering of a scene, rather he communicates the act of being in a place. Although the human figure is isn't visible in the composition, we are aware of the artist presence. Mark will be painting in Cannon Beach during Friday afternoon and all day Saturday during the festival weekend.
Last November we did our first "Focus on Ceramics". This year we decided to bring forward to spring, adding a little "& More" to the festival weekend. We are showing the work of 14 potters and ceramic sculpture by six further artists. Clay is a tactile medium like no other, intrinsically embedding the physical nature of creation and artists touch into every work.
Ever since we opened the doors of the gallery just over a year ago we have been asked if we will be showing jewelry. Cannon Beach is a resort town, and nearly every gallery shows at least some jewelry. I was very sure that I didn't want to show work just to tick a box, and knew that finding the right artists for us was going to take a little time. I wanted the work to fit with the gallery so the artists could be seen within the context of our curated space rather than just an add on. We are delighted to to be introducing the work of Catherine Grizes, Kay Seurat and Melanie West for this festival weekend.
Plein Air & No More?
So what is next for the Plein Air & More Festival? The festival has always had an identity crisis but has demonstrated two important elements of the art scene in Cannon Beach: the diversity of art created and exhibited here through its many galleries, and a desire to hold a festival that connects with Cannon Beach as a place: a special community, an awe-inspiring landscape with a fragile but significant ecology. To continue my earlier analogy, the ugly sister is shedding her braces and losing the Plein Air & More name, is hiring a life coach and will graduate to become a new festival based around the arts and ecology in September 2019. Watch this space.