By Lois Mittino Gray
When four nationally-acclaimed artists arrived in New Harmony to teach workshops at the Fifteenth Annual First Brush of Spring Paint Out this week, they bantered back and forth about it being like a little ‘Mayberry.’ They gushed over its small town ways, the low prices at the Main Café and the solitary cop car and lone flashing stoplight. By the time they left after a week, the four could not stop praising the friendliness of the town and its people.
Montana artist Carolyn Anderson, Pennsylvanian Kenn Backhaus, and Hoosier native CW Mundy taught classes this week as well as California resident Frank Serrano. Serrano was wowed by local hospitality and called New Harmony the “most unique place I’ve ever seen.” The quartet also led a panel discussion on plein air painting Tuesday night for the public at the Atheneum, including a busload of students who came over from USI. Some 65 persons attended the four workshops.
The Paint Out was held from Thursday through Saturday and 134 people registered to paint outdoors and enter their work in the contest. Awards were presented Saturday afternoon at the Holy Angels Community Center. Jerry Smith won Best in Show for an oil painting titled ‘Bowery Street Spring.’ His $2,500 award was made possible by John and Sarah Lechleiter. A one thousand dollar award went to Todd A. Williams for an oil painting of Barn Abbey, sponsored by local art patrons Dr. George and Mrs. Peggy Rapp. Best in Watercolor Award went to Robert Pote for ‘Along East Tavern’ and his thousand dollar award was sponsored by the Hoosier Salon.
The thousand dollar Best in Pastel Award went to Carol Strock-Wasson’s ‘Untitled.’ It was made possible by the Richmond Art Museum. Merit awards of $250 each went to Chris Newland, Jeff Klinker, Joel Knapp, Jim Cantrell, Larry Rudolech, Ken Bucklew, Roy Boswell, Ray Hassard and John Lasater.
Nonprofessional Awards were made possible by Ron and Dottie Mack. The First Place Award of $100 was won by Loretta Robinson’s ‘Old Rooming House.’ Second Place $75 to Rodka Dammeyer for ‘Monet’s Bridge’ and $50 to Mary Ann Nusbaum for ‘New Harmony Bridge.’
A kids mini-workshop was held on Saturday morning for twenty children. Monetary awards were given to Macey Montgomery, Haley LaMar and Gwendolynn Jolly in ages 12-18. Kayla Orpurt, Ellsion Martin and Grace Glaser won in the under 12 category. All student awards are in memory of Dr. Arthur Mills. The judged event was sponsored by the Indiana Plein Air Association and the Hoosier Salon.
The Paint Out also featured a Field to Finish Exhibit and Reception on Wednesday night. Fifty entrants show field drawings made outdoors last year that were taken home to the studio as sparks to embellish upon and finish later. The contest shows the artist’s thoughts and process in making a piece from start to finish. Winners were Roy Boswell, Tricia Hillenburg, Virginia Kramer, Marka Kroeger and Marilyn Witt. All were pastels except for Hillenburg’s oil. A Quick Draw Event was held Thursday night at the Holy Angels Community Center.
The Paint Out’s Signature offering is the Art Sale at the Ribeyre Community Gym on Saturday morning. Sale Chairmen Paul and Tammy Allison felt this year it was bigger and better than ever. “We sold the most number of paintings, double what we sold five years ago, and had artists here from several states. The quality is the best we ever had”, they said. Hoosier Salon Director Maggie Rapp agreed and felt the good sales are due to “high quality art this year, decent prices and the opportunity to talk to the artist in person which collectors love to do.”
All of these activities require a considerable organized volunteer effort and Paint Out Chairmen George and Peggy Rapp hosted a party in their home Sunday evening to thank all the help. Jobs included everything from delivering lunches on golf carts to making S’mores for the Friday night Cookout and Bonfire with Music. Dale Kennedy earned the nickname ‘Town Apple Polisher’ after she personally shined up cases of Gala apples for snacks for the artists. Mick McConnell was Assistant Chairman.
Peggy Rapp said “this is an enormous volunteer effort and the number of people who pull this off is phenomenal. Next year we plan to have five famous artists leading workshops.” Dates for next year’s venue are set for April 10-12.
By Lois Mittino Gray
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