Art House's plein air event to showcase Callaway County scenery

Brian Mahieu, curator with the Art House and longtime plein art artist, paints a landscape in Callaway County. He will participate in the Art House's first plein air event this weekend. Contributed photo by Tom Harris
Brian Mahieu, curator with the Art House and longtime plein art artist, paints a landscape in Callaway County. He will participate in the Art House's first plein air event this weekend. Contributed photo by Tom Harris

They'll travel from the states of Ohio and Illinois, and Missouri cities like Washington, Rocheport, Ethel, Hannibal and more to paint the landscapes of Callaway County this weekend for the Art House's first plein air event.

More than 35 artists from these parts of the Midwest will discover scenic spots in Callaway County to set up and create art from May 30-June 1.


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Brian Mahieu, curator at the Art House, said he expects at least 100 paintings to hang in the Art House for a month-long exhibit throughout June after the art submission deadline at 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 1.

The Art House committee, comprised of people familiar with the county, assembled a list of about 50 suggested locations for artists, including the Church of St. Mary Aldermanbury, local wineries and Prairie Garden Trust. Artists are welcome to find their own destination within county limits, though.

Mahieu, who is also on the Callaway County tourism board, said the event showcases all Callaway County has to offer and draws people into the area.

"We're really promoting the beauty of Callaway County," Mahieu said.

Jane Mudd, Art House committee member and art professor at William Woods University, said plein air artists "can't be afraid of the unknown" while working on their pieces, as they battle the sun, heat, wind, bugs and all the elements that come along with being outdoors.

"We're gluttons for punishment, masochists in a way, but we live through it," Mudd said with a laugh.

Because plein air artists create outdoors, the ways in which their senses - sight, sound, taste, touch and smell - are transferred into the painting, Mahieu said, making the art more authentic compared to studio pieces.

"I want the feeling," Mahieu said.

Mudd gave similar sentiments, saying that a photograph - which snapshots a scene in less than a second - doesn't give the same emotion that a plein air painting does.

"It was someone feeling and experiencing this and trying to capture that on canvas," Mudd said.

The event kicks off Friday with a meet and greet for the artists from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. with a cash bar, live music and hors d'oeuvres. Adult participating artists will have a chance to paint the sun going down in the sunset paint-out at 6 p.m. Saturday at Serenity Valley Winery.

When all the art submissions have been entered, the Art House will hang all of the submissions and the public is welcome to view the artwork in a free "Wet Paint" artists reception.

The reception will give artists a social networking opportunity to converse and learn about each others pieces. It will also be a chance for artists to explain to the public what they went through for the end result.


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"It goes back to the education when you know the what, where, why and how of a painting," Mahieu said.

Award recipients will be announced that evening. The first place winner will receive $500; second place, $250; third place, $100.

Billyo O'Donnell, a renowned plein air painter, will be the adjudicator. O'Donnell is famous for painting a plein air piece in every county of Missouri. After getting to know O'Donnell at many plein air events, Mudd asked him to judge.

Up to 25 art enthusiasts between the ages of 12 and 17 can enter in the youth division. Children and teenagers under 16 must register with a parent and entry is free. An artist will also lead a plein air class for youth at a cost of $20 for class and supplies.

Including young people enforces Art House's educational aspect, Mahieu said. While some children excel at sports or math and science, others can find their talent with art.

"Let everyone shine with what they're good at," Mahieu said.

Mudd said she is looking forward to the variety of artwork.

"The beauty of this is that there's so many interpretations," Mudd said.

The upcoming "First Thursday" on June 5 will act as the grand opening for the Art House's plein art exhibit.

Mahieu said an artist's role is to help others see what they can't, and the exhibit will help display the beauty of Callaway County's landscapes, which can be overlooked when doing everyday tasks like driving to work.

"This will give people in this county the gift of seeing through new eyes," Mahieu said.

For more information on Callaway Plein Air or to become involved, click here.