Home Arts

Cannon Beach’s Plein Air & More arts festival revels in outdoor creation

From painters to potters, artists work in the open air June 22–24

By Marianne Monson

For Coast Weekend

Published on June 19, 2018 3:33PM

Jeffrey Hull, owner of Jeffrey Hull Gallery

George Vetter photo

Jeffrey Hull, owner of Jeffrey Hull Gallery

Artist Boni Deal uses leaves and other elements from the surrounding environment to decorate the surfaces of the ceramics she creates with her husband, Dave.

File photo

Artist Boni Deal uses leaves and other elements from the surrounding environment to decorate the surfaces of the ceramics she creates with her husband, Dave.

Outdoors at a previous Plein Air fest.

Bonnie Gilchrist

Outdoors at a previous Plein Air fest.

Teagan White’s ‘Swallow,’ at Archimedes Gallery

Courtesy Cannon Beach Gallery Group

Teagan White’s ‘Swallow,’ at Archimedes Gallery

Gary Lavarack’s ‘Witches Wicket,’ at Cannon Beach Gallery

Courtesy Cannon Beach Gallery Group

Gary Lavarack’s ‘Witches Wicket,’ at Cannon Beach Gallery

Brooke Borcherding’s ‘Night Traffic,’ at White Bird Gallery

Courtesy Cannon Beach Gallery Group

Brooke Borcherding’s ‘Night Traffic,’ at White Bird Gallery

Jewelry by Sharon Amber

Courtesy Cannon Beach Gallery Group

Jewelry by Sharon Amber

‘Acrabat’ by Karen Croner, at Imprint Gallery

Courtesy Cannon Beach Gallery Group

‘Acrabat’ by Karen Croner, at Imprint Gallery


Popular memes like to poke fun at the French language’s proclivity for wordy eloquence — employing accents and complex constructions, even while English evolves toward simplicity. In keeping with this tradition, the whimsical French phrase “en plein air” translates to the pithy English word “outside.”

In the art world, however, the phrase refers to a method of creating work, usually paintings, in outdoor conditions, subjected to the capriciousness of weather and the elements. One of the greatest challenges with this type of art comes from constantly shifting light conditions — clouds roll in, shadows morph, colors disappear.

Championed by French impressionist painters such as Claude Monet and Auguste Renoir, the “en plein air” approach contrasts with landscape paintings executed from the controlled environment of a studio.

Artists who enjoy “en plein air” thrive on the unique challenges, and Cannon Beach Gallery Group has created a festival devoted to the genre: Plein Air & More arts festival, taking place citywide Friday through Sunday, June 22 through 24.

Far from limiting themselves to painters, however, the festival includes a wide variety of artists working at their craft — from glass blowing to stone sculpture, Raku pottery to printmaking. For the tenth straight year, you can see master craftspeople at work in a town deemed one of the “100 Best Art Towns in America.”

Throughout the weekend-long event, artists can be found near their representing galleries or in one of five locations: Whale Park, the courtyard between Spruce and Hemlock streets, the Coaster Theatre courtyard, Washington Street at Ocean Street, and Harrison Street at Ocean Street.


Swarming artists


“What is unique about the festival, compared to other Plein Air events is the ‘& More’ part,” Whitebird Gallery owner Allyn Cantor said. “Our group wanted the event to be as inclusive as possible to all media and artists who are able to work outside and demonstrate their techniques for the visitors.”

The organizers include arts beyond the visual as well. Stilt walker Melissa Rae will appear throughout town distributing festival brochures, and a number of live bands will provide music for the events, including the Boka Marimba Band on Saturday beginning at 11:30 a.m., and the Zingari Band playing gypsy-Italian-folk fusion on Saturday night.

One of the most popular festival events is the “Artists’ Swarm” held 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday in the Coaster Theatre courtyard. This is when every artist at the festival comes together to celebrate and create together — if there are artists you’d really like to see, you are sure to find them at the Swarm.

Organizer Bonnie Gilchrist said that the energy of all the artists crowded into the courtyard together is just electric. She described the festival as a family-friendly, dog-friendly celebration of the arts.

Her favorite aspect is that the public is “able to see what is involved in stone sculpture and what goes into making a glass piece — they are able to see all the different stages and steps of the creative process in a remarkably short amount of time.”


Firing, dueling


Another perennially popular festival event is the Saturday evening Raku firing on the beach at Whale Park with husband-and-wife potter team Dave and Boni Deal beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Western Raku is a form of pottery that involves removing ceramic work from a kiln at incredibly hot temperatures, then dropping the pieces into a container of combustible materials for a post-firing smoke reduction. The smoke cracks and blackens the clay and glazes in unpredictable and organic patterns.

“When Dave pulls out the pot and it’s glowing, there’s always a huge reaction from the crowd,” Gilchrist said. “Then he drops it into the container and flames go shooting up — it’s a magnificent sight.”

Cantor said the Raku firing is one of the “most unique attractions of the weekend.”

Cantor also points to DragonFire Gallery’s Dualing Easels event as another highlight for her. In this demonstration, on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., two artists, Anton Pavlenko and Michael Orwick, paint the same subject matter using their own dramatically different styles and approaches. They switch canvases several times throughout the process, allowing audiences to watch a spontaneous collaboration unfold in real time.


Coastal inspiration


Artist and co-organizer Jeffery Hull is both a painter, working in watercolors and oils, as well as a gallery owner. He moved from Portland to Cannon Beach 45 years ago and has seen the community grow and mature. He has always been an artist, and was originally attracted to the area for its surfing. Today he paints coastal seascapes, inspired by the beauty of the Pacific Northwest coast.

“I feel so fortunate to have landed here,” he said. “I didn’t come here knowing I would grow old here.”

Thirty-one years ago he started Jeffery Hull Gallery with his wife, both motivated by a desire to convey their deep love for the area through their art. Hull said of Plein Air & More, “It’s a really wonderful experience to watch and converse with other artists as they are working.”

On any given day of the year, Cannon Beach is a town charming enough to earn National Geographic’s designation as “One of the Most Beautiful Places in the World” — but fill it up with working artists creating alongside nature, and you’ve got a sure recipe for a weekend of Oregon Coast summer magic.


Galleries and participating artists


Archimedes Gallery: Teagan White, Kelli MacConnell

Bronze Coast Gallery: Dan Chen, Margret Short

Cannon Beach Gallery: Sharon Abbott-Furze, Scott C. Johnson, Gary Lavarak, Hilma Josal

DragonFire Studio & Gallery: Joanne Shellan, Anton Pavlenko, Michael Orwick, Dana Murray

Icefire Glassworks: Jim Kingwell, Suzanne Kindland, Steve Krig

Imprint Gallery: Mark Andres, Karen Croner, Jani Holberg, Kay Seurat, Catherine Grizes, Melanie West

Jeffrey Hull Gallery: Jeffrey Hull

Jewelry By Sharon Amber: Sharon Amber, Shelby Silver

Northwest By Northwest Gallery: Hazel Schlesinger

White Bird Gallery: Gretha Lindwood, Dave and Boni Deal, Josh Henrie, Debra Carnes, Marianne Post, Brooke Borcherding, Rachel Laura, Beverly Drew Kindley







Marketplace

Share and Discuss

Guidelines

User Comments

ERROR: Macro /themes/belgrade-sparrow/scripts/bw-paywall-activate is missing!