Columbus, OH

Ohio Plein Air Society exhibition highlights artists’ talents, Ohio’s beauty

The Lantern
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“Gloriously Wild,” painted by artist Angela Gage, is one of the many works on display at “Best of Ohio Plein Air Society.” Credit: Courtesy of Angela Gage

The Ohio Plein Air Society aims to celebrate the talent of its artists and the beauty of Ohio in its latest exhibition.

“Best of Ohio Plein Air Society,” which will be on display at the Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center of Worthington through Dec. 18, features some of the best works of 20 plein air artists from across Ohio, Michelle Tavenner, program director at the center, said. She said the 43 works — which were painted “en plein air,” or while the artists were outdoors on location — highlight some of Ohio’s most beloved locations and landscapes.

“When visitors come in, they’ll be able to kind of experience some significant landscapes and buildings that they may run across in their travels across Ohio,” Tavenner said.

All of the artists featured in the exhibition are members of the Ohio Plein Air Society, a nonprofit that brings together Ohio-based artists who share a common interest in outdoor painting, Debra Joyce Dawson, president of the society, said.

The exhibition features paintings of Ohio locations such as Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus, the Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens at Ohio State, Lynd Fruit Farm Market in Pataskala and the Marietta Brewing Company, Tavenner said. She said some visitors to the exhibition have been inspired to further explore the state.

“Some visitors have come through and didn’t recognize a particular location,” Tavenner said. “It kind of sparked a little bit more interest in perhaps a day trip or traveling to a particular area so they can see that in person.”

To be considered for the exhibition, artists were required to complete 95 percent of their paintings outside on location and from direct observation, Tavenner said. Three jurors then selected the finest examples of plein air works for the exhibition, according to the center’s website .

Dawson, who has several paintings included in the exhibition, said the plein air painting process, for her, is often a roller coaster of emotions.

“One minute your painting might be going beautifully and you’re just on cloud nine, you know, you’re at the high point of that roller coaster,” Dawson said. “Then you can put one brushstroke on and you just lose what you had.”

Dawson said she believes painting outside on location is one of the best ways to learn how to paint landscapes.

“If you want to become a landscape painter, if you really want to know what light falling on form looks like, the only way to really know that is to go out and see it for real,” Dawson said.

With many different plein air artists featured in the exhibition, Dawson said she hopes viewers will gain a newfound appreciation for art.

“They’ll see lots of variety and style and handwriting,” Dawson said. “I hope that they can take that in and appreciate that and just see how the artists handle color and design.”

The exhibition is on display at the Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center, which aims to change lives and make memories through creative arts experiences like the “Best of Ohio Plein Air Society” exhibition, Tavenner said.

The center and its exhibitions are free to visit, which Tavenner said highlights its commitment to accessibility within the arts.

“The arts bring so much joy and memories that change people’s lives,” Tavenner said. “We want to do everything that we can to make that possible for the most people, not just in the community of Worthington, but in the surrounding areas outside of Columbus.”

Tavenner said in addition to celebrating the talents of artists in the Ohio Plein Air Society and increasing awareness of the center’s services within the community, she hopes the exhibition helps visitors recognize the beauty of their state.

“We’d like to be able to showcase the beauty that’s within Ohio and share that with people who may or may not get the chance to travel very much, especially in these times,” Tavenner said.

“Best of Ohio Plein Air Society” will be free to view through Dec. 18 at the Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center in Columbus. More information can be found on the center’s website .

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