Visitors to the Mohonk Preserve in New Paltz, New York, are used to experiencing scenic trailheads and gorgeous fall foliage this time of year. What they probably aren’t expecting to encounter are artists working alongside the nature and wildlife.
But that’s exactly what they got at this month’s inaugural Plein Air Art Walk, an event conceived in response to restrictions on large indoor gatherings.
A fundraiser held in conjunction with Roost Studios, a local art nonprofit, the Plein Air Art Walk featured 19 artists painting and sketching the natural landscape, following in the footsteps of 19th-century Hudson River Valley school.
“Hudson Valley landscape painting has a rich history. It has always been a strong part of our artistic heritage in this area,” Marcy Bernstein, the executive director of Roost Studios, told Artnet News in an email.
She came up with the idea for the event while the organization’s gallery and community art space was closed this spring and summer.
“I saw a demand in our community for cultural and artistic events that can happen in a safe outdoor environment,” she told Artnet News. “It has been an experience born of necessity that has created joy and connection extending far beyond the white box of the traditional gallery walls.”
At the Mohonk Preserve, guests strolling along the Pine Oak Allée and other woodland paths “were able to experience artists at work up close—but not too close,” Tom Leader, the preserve’s special events manager, told Artnet News.
“We created signage reminding visitors to wear masks and follow guidelines for staying socially distant.”
The artists—including Rosalind Bank, Greg Correll, Mira Fink, and Stacie Flint—were especially keen to take part, Bernstein said.
“An opportunity to paint outside and have an audience again, at a time when many creative people are feeling isolated, is a gift,” she said. “To have the privilege of setting up in this prime location to paint and capture the scene is an amazing opportunity.”
“Fall is a beautiful time of year here at Mohonk Preserve,” Leader added. “The event enabled us to showcase a brand new trailhead and beautiful open vistas of the Shawangunk Ridge, an often painted and photographed view.”
The walk attracted some 200 hikers and raised nearly $10,000 for the two organizations thanks to an online auction of the paintings created by participating artists. Based on that success, there are already plans to stage another art walk next spring.
See more images from the event below.
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