Plein Air Festival gathers 75 artists

SARANAC LAKE – From “Caution: Wet Paint” to “Caution, Long Lines” – that is the story of the successful, 5th annual Adirondack Plein Air Festival.

More than 200 brand new, original paintings were on display in the Harrietstown Town Hall Aug. 18, as the culminating event of the Festival.

Sixty-one artists brought works they had painted, outdoors, on location during the festival. While the paint was still wet on many of the framed pieces, the lines at the check out table were long as both locals, seasonal residents and visitors were snapping up these one-of-a-kind pieces.

Only a few people responded to an earlier published request to have their homes or businesses painted – they said they were pleased with the results.

Seventy-five plein air painters from all over the Northeast, Ontario, Quebec and even Colorado registered for the event. The response from event evaluations was overwhelmingly positive. They loved the Adirondacks, felt the community was welcoming, and enjoyed the great weather.

The 2013 Best in Show Award was given to Cambridge artist George Van Hook for his oil painting “Spirit of the River.” The prize, donated by Plein Air Magazine publisher (and seasonal resident) Eric Rhoads, is a special featured artist piece in the magazine, a canvas bag full of plein air items, and a check for $200 from Saranac Lake ArtWorks, the sponsor of the event.

The next award, a pair of round trip tickets donated by Cape Air, was presented to Syracuse artist Nikolay Mikushkin for his painting “Road to the Farm.” Nikolay was the Best in Show Award winner two years ago, and many might recall his colorful painting of the Harrietstown Town Hall on the cover of the Saranac Lake Area Chamber Visitors Guide.

Charlie Hunter, from Bellows Falls, Vt., won the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce Award, plus two tickets for Pendragon Theatre. His unique painting of Union Depot will appear in the 2014 Visitors Guide.

Other winners include the following:

  • Adirondack Health “Spirit of Health & Healing through the Arts” Award: Eden Compton, (Saratoga Springs), $200
  • Saranac Lake ArtWorks Award: Marilyn Fairman, (Johnstown), $200
  • Adirondack Artists’ Guild Award: Patricia Bellerose,(Lanoraie, Quebec), $200
  • “Village Life” Award, donated by the Adirondack Motel and Guerilla Painter: Melissa Hood, (Brick, N.J.), $200 value
  • “Adirondack Spirit” Award, supported by Saranac Lake Discount Liquors: Francis Gaffney, (New York City), $200
  • Guerrilla Painter Award, Eberhard Froehlich, (Montreal, Quebec), $150
  • Saranac Village at Will Rogers Award (two night’s meals and lodging): Tarry Gabel (Poughkeepsie)
  • Bookstore Plus and Guerilla Painter “Outstanding Watercolor” Award: Elissa Gore (New York City)
  • Outstanding Paul Smith’s VIC or College Painting: Dinner for four at the St. Regis Cafe and an exhibit opportunity at the VIC: Lori McCall, (Liverpool)
  • Sandy’s Choice Award (a package of handmade rosemary brushes): John McNally (Annandale, N.J.)
  • A Youth Award was presented to Samantha Pahucki,12, (Pine Island)

Honorable Mentions went to : Carol Kravitz (Weehawken, N.J.), Jean Dupre (Constania), Laura Martinez-Bianco (Marlboro), Janet Marie Yeates (Northville), Tricia Wilmot Savoie (Ottawa, Ontario), Lisa Noviasky (Syracuse) and Libbey Griffin (Sherbrook, Ontario).

After hundreds of people attended the Show and Sale and voted for their favorite, the “People’s Choice” Award, $100 donated by Community Bank, went to Patricia Bellerose for her nighttime painting of downtown Saranac Lake.

Pictures of the event and the winners will be on the web at

Saranac Lake ArtWorks raised more than $4,000 from the Silent Auction of the little 5-inch-by-7-inch “Paint the Town” paintings that many of the artists donated. The funds will be used to help support ArtWorks exhibits and programs in the coming year.

Local artists would like to thank the volunteers and the ArtWorks business sponsors, as well as North Country Public Radio, the 2013 media sponsor; the Adirondack Artists’ Guild Gallery for hosting the Silent Auction, the village of Saranac Lake for putting up the Plein Air Festival banners and the town of Harrietstown for the use of the auditorium.

The 2014 Adirondack Plein Air Festival will be Aug. 14-17.