I manipulate metals and minerals and bonding solutions in order to provoke emotional responses from people I will usually never meet. That which happens in the process some people call art. My talent for creating icons and illusions turned into a lifetime of manipulations... in various pigments, bronze and steel, some quite large, which loom in museums, schools, collections and public places all over Texas. Here on this blog you can watch my creative actions and insights unfold...

Monday, November 3, 2014

San Angelo Makes Art History

And I got to be there!

After a solid week of painting and partying, and then SELLING, what's not to love?

I've been talking about this art show for months, and now that it is over, I will never shut up about it. And I especially want to thank all of those who help put on this event. San Angelo just hosted a major plein air event that will set the bar for future such shows all across the southwest. 

The first annual En Plein Air TEXAS invitational competition was a smashing success on all accounts. 29 juried artists from 12 states (and France!) converged on San Angelo for four days of intensive outdoor landscape painting, to turn in their best two plein air sketches and compete for $13,000.00 in cash awards, and then sold over $100,000.00 worth of their freshly produced art! This overwhelming success surprised even its most optimistic supporters.

This kind of competition, on this scale, with these kinds of results is absolutely unprecedented. Not to mention that it was the most fun I have had in a long time. Here are some highlights of this event which made Texas art history!


Event judge Stephen Doherty (left), editor of Plein Air Magazine, visits with several artists at a catered luncheon on Thursday, hosted by Dr. & Mrs. David Harvey. Ray Hassard (far right) of Cincinati, Ohio, was to win the first place $3000.00 award.

Ray Hassard poses with the Judge and one of the show patrons

The artists were directed to sites all around the San Angelo area, including ranches, a winery, downtown San Angelo, and historic Fort Concho. Some painted as many as three or four paintings per day, searching for the winning composition. On Wednesday David Csont of Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania and I found this charming creek scene far in the outback of Tom Green County.


David Csont does his plein air landscapes in watercolor.

I waded across and painted about a hundred yards downstream , looking back at David...


Photo courtesy of Jim Rogers

Occasionally the artists would throw together impromptu exhibits wherever they were...

Notice all the different styles of paint boxes.

Transplanted Texan Melissa Arthur came all the way from Colorado to compete. She puts the finishing touches on the painting which would later earn her the coveted Artists Choice award.


Melissa smartly found refuge out of the wind and sun behind this truck brought by another artist. Plein air paintings are usually small, around 8 x 10 inches to 11 x 14 inches. The absolute limit in the competition is 20 x 24.

Ray Hassard loves to paint hay... hay in Ohio, hay in Texas... but he especially loves industrial subjects. He works in pastels, and achieves very intense hues and values with them.


Each artist brought not only luggage to cover a week of activities, in any kind of weather, but art supplies and frames for the paintings to be done. My Tahoe was packed to the ceiling.


Led by visionary Barbara Rallo, an amazing team of devoted volunteers made this event a golden moment for the participants. They made the highly unlikely seem routine. San Angelo has great people, great weather, and a great diversity of rich and inspiring subjects. Rallo and her sidekick Treva Boyd made it all come together.

Jimmy Longacre of Dripping Springs, Texas was one of around a dozen artists from the Lone Star State.

Joan Mertz was another cash award winner, and one of several local San Angelo artists invited to compete in the event. She is also the go-to girl for any question about local San Angelo history.

Floridian Karen Ann Hitt here uses an underpainting much like the old masters, as she starts a canvas depicting the cypress-lined creek that runs through the gorgeous Christoval Winery. 

 I managed to win an honorable mention at the "Quick Draw" on Saturday, saving my pride somewhat, but I felt lucky to just get into such a show. Another Texas artist confided in me that they felt pretty good about themselves until they saw the incredible competition... and the confidence turned into shame... It was humbling to see the fierce competition, some of the most talented painters in the country, cranking out fabulous art every few hours, as we got our artistic butts kicked. But we cannot ever get where they are until we face the challenge. This show made that happen. Many of us who were left in the San Angelo dust just raised the bar of our ambitions several notches. It was an enlightening experience, and that is a good thing.

Numerous bridges cross the Concho River while it meanders through San Angelo and provide infinite artistic opportunities. There is a stunning collection of public art along this corridor, which makes the search fun and inspiring.


The sights along this beautiful  little river have been barely explored...


Most of the artists at the show promised to return. San Angelo has a new goal: To be the Plein Air Capital of Texas!

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