Artists celebrate city history with Paint Annapolis 2004

Event brings `plein air' art to the public

Arts: Museums, Literature

September 23, 2004|By Meredith Lidard | Meredith Lidard,SUN STAFF

Some artists spend weeks, even years, on their masterpieces. But plein air painters complete their work in one day, battling the elements to capture light and the open air.

The technique, whose results are similar to impressionism, will be on display this weekend at Paint Annapolis 2004.

Spectators will see the painters map out their vision for the historic backdrop, from rough sketches to final brush strokes.

Today's kickoff events feature the 25 exhibiting artists painting the Annapolis landscape from noon until sundown. Evening events include an all-members show at Annapolis City Hall, while local galleries stay open late to host visiting artists' work. The painting continues tomorrow and Saturday, when local plein air artists will paint downtown all day. Paint Annapolis 2004 concludes Sunday with an exhibit and reception.

"This is a chance for people to watch some of the region's finest professional artists at work," says event organizer John Ebersberger.

Ebersberger credits Lee Boynton and other artists-in-residence at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts for proposing Paint Annapolis. Boynton, Ebersberger and others observed the rise of plein air's popularity in the past 15 years, primarily in California, and wanted to highlight Annapolis artists.

Derived from the French "en plein air," meaning "in the open air," the art is similar to impressionism, except the entire painting is done outdoors in one sitting. It was introduced in the United States in 1891, when the first outdoor painting school in the country was opened by William Merritt Chase, credited as the first American impressionist.

Chase's teaching assistant, Charles Hawthorne, opened his own school in Provincetown, Mass., where he taught Henry Hensche. Hensche went on to teach Cedric Egeli, under whom Ebersberger studied after graduating from the Maryland Institute College of Art.

The plein air painting movement in Annapolis started in the early '80s, when Egeli persuaded Bonnie Roth Anderson, Boynton and Ebersberger to visit the Cape School of Art in Massachusetts, where Hensche was teaching. After the trip, the artists noticed a shift in the focus of the art in town, resulting in the founding of the Mid-Atlantic Plein Air Painters Association.

Sharon Littig, president of MAPAPA, says that Paint Annapolis is about "promoting the historic town of Annapolis" and "being out so the public can learn more."

All Paint Annapolis 2004 events are free and open to the public. Thursday, artists will be painting from noon to sundown. The MAPAPA all-members show will run from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Annapolis City Hall, Duke of Gloucester Street. Local galleries will stay open from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Artists will paint downtown all day on Friday and Saturday. The Paint Annapolis 2004 exhibit and reception will run from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at the Chaney Gallery at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase St. For more information, contact John Ebersberger at 410-263-6532 or visit www.mapapa.org.

For more art events, see Page 35.

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