AMANA — The Amana Colonies have a long history of attracting artists to its beautiful landscapes and historic villages, going back to Grant Wood and Carl Flick, both of whom spent a lot of time painting outdoors around Amana.
Painting from some of the same vantage points in the Iowa River Valley has the same appeal for today’s artists. And so 11 years ago, Catiri’s Fresh Paint launched the first Plein-air Competition in Iowa, based on the famous Door County Plein Air. The Amana event has continued to grow in scope and popularity, and gives the artists the freedom to paint anywhere in the main village of Amana, Middle Amana and Homestead, with additional locations switching up each year.
This year’s “Artists Paint Amana” begins Friday (8/31) and continues through Sunday (9/2), featuring artists who have painted in the nationally recognized Door County Plein Air, which is open by invitation only.
“We are thrilled to have an event that now has the best plein-air artists in Iowa, along with accomplished artists from five different states, some of whom paint at Door County,” organizer Jenise Catiri said.
Fresh Paint combines an art competition with a dash of joy, she added. The weekend starts with 40 artists painting masterpieces in the Amanas, resulting in an art showing of more 200 fresh works of art. Two nocturnal painting opportunities will be offered on Friday and Saturday, with locations to be announced, as well as a two-hour quick paint from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday (9/2), at Catiri’s Art Oasis, 4506 220th Trl., Amana.
The French “plein-air” translates as “open air,” and is defined as painting or drawing done outside, in the open air. More than 100 years ago, artists made the move from the studio to painting outdoors. Artists sketched the landscape in paint to bring forth its full light and color. These works are taken directly from nature and infused with a feeling of the open air. Today’s plein-air painters have mastered the art of capturing the changing light on a scene.
“It is truly amazing how determined these artists are to paint every perfect moment they see that weekend,” Catiri said. “There is excitement in just seeing their gear and to paint in any weather, day or night.”
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The public also is invited to participate in several weekend activities:
• Sixth annual Kids Plein Air Paint Out: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday (9/1), Catiri’s Art Oasis, 4506 220th Trl., Amana. Kids ages 12 and under are invited to try their hand at creating a masterpiece during this free event. They also can see the progression of the professional artists at work, observe different techniques and ask questions. The Amana Arts Guild will provide easels, paint, paper and an Art Guild volunteer to help the kids get set up and started. For information, call Deb Hawkes at The Amana Arts Guild, (319) 622-3678.
• Golden Brush Award Party: 5 p.m. Sunday (9/2), Price Creek Event Center, 4709 220th Trl., Amana. The Art Party of the Year features private viewing for Patrons and Friends of Plein-air from 5 to 6 p.m. The evening includes food and wine, with music by Catfish Keith. VIP tickets are $100, which includes two VIP dinner tickets, early viewing of the artwork, and $50 redeemable toward purchasing a painting in this year’s Fresh Paint Show. Non-VIP dinner tickets are $15, which includes dinner, drinks and the chance to see and buy the art at 6 p.m., before the awards are announced. For tickets and information, go to Catiriartoasis.com/fresh-paint/fresh-paint-party-tickets or call (319) 622-3969.
• Awards Ceremony: 7 p.m. Sunday (9/2), open to the public, Price Creek Event Center, 4709 220th Trl., Amana.