The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Jul 17, 2013

Akron’s “plein air” tradition takes to the streets

Posted by rdurbin

“Plein air” or “open air” painting has been around for some time now, but it's getting a nationwide revival, and along with it, a penchant for using the genre for competition among artists.

The form usually or traditionally involves an artist setting up his or her easel, pulling out the paints, and quickly capturing the scene and mood of a particular place at a particular time (including a time of day). Also, convention has it that the art form has dealt with naturalistic views – rural scenes if you will, and often of sun-drenched fields or dappled forests.

Not for Akron. Last year’s curator of the Akron’s take on this genre, Brian Shellito, made “Streetscapes: Akron in Plein Air” take to the streets – using the mode of painting to capture the urban scene. The event was hugely successful and the call has been put out again – by Sandy Kreisman, director of Akron Art Arts Alliance – for artists to gather again for a weekend and to create as many canvases as they can.

And for prize money: $500 as grand prize, $300 for second place and $100 as third place.

This year’s competitors are to gather at Summit Artspace, a Knight Arts grantee, on the mornings of Friday-Saturday, July 26-27 between 8-9 a.m. to let event coordinators know of their interest (and to collect the $30 entry fee). Artists are sent out to do their thing, returning sometime between 4-6 p.m. on Sunday, July 28 to drop off the works they want submitted for inspection and consideration.

It’ll be, as Kreisman put it, “a paint out weekend.”

“Streetscapes: Akron in Plein Air” has announced that internationally known, locally based artist Judith Carducci will be the 2013 show's judge.

As the press release notes (and several local gallery shows attest), “Carducci's beautiful use of color, values, composition and her excellent draftsmanship produce her highly acclaimed pastel portraits and landscapes. She has earned a position as one of today's most outstanding artists and teachers.”

Judith Carducci, "Red House."

As an internationally recognized portrait and landscape artist, Carducci has been involved in shows at renowned venues such as The National Arts Club and the Salmagundi Club in New York, as well as many American galleries such as The Butler Institute of Art in Youngstown, Ohio.

Her work has been discussed in such magazines as “International Artist” and “American Artist,” among others. She is a member of several important arts groups, including the Portrait Society of America (board & faculty), Pastel Society of America (signature) and the Salmagundi Club.

Full competition guidelines, entry forms, jurist and awards information for “Streetscapes: Akron in Plein Air” are available at or by contacting Brian Shellito at You can also get specific information about the locations of artists during the competition on Facebook.

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