En Plein Air Painters Take Over Chastain Park

This Saturday, August the 11th, painters will take over the lush grounds of Chastain Park to commemorate the anniversary of Atlanta’s oldest arts center. The Chastain Arts Center and Gallery offers exhibits, workshops and educational programs in a variety of mediums for all ages and skill levels to enjoy.

Chastain Arts Center

As part of the center’s 50th anniversary celebration, artists will set up their easels, dust off their brushes, and embark on a Plein Air Paint Out competition.

En plein air painting is a term given to artists who work in the field as opposed to painting within a studio. This method relies upon live observation of the environment around the artist to create compelling paintings. Whether you prefer still life, abstract or impressionist works, there is room for unique interpretation when artists embrace this method.

Painters at this weekend’s celebration will compete for gift cards to Binder’s, Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff, and Digital Art Studio. The competition will be juried by Spalding Nix, owner of Spalding Nix Fine Art located on Peachtree Hills Avenue. Participants can register online for $25 in advance or $40 on the day of the event, and will have between 10 AM and noon to complete one piece for entry into the competition. The artwork will be framed on-site and will be displayed – with many for sale – after the event.

Karen Lowe, Director, points out the wall space for the Chastain Experiment

The day of celebration will also include pottery and jewelry demonstrations, raku firing, and a group art show called the Chastain Experiment which is an exhibition of current instructors who will each get an 8ft square of designated wall space in the gallery to create a new piece, drawing or painting directly on the wall. A children’s village with art activities will provide entertainment for the kids, and visitors will enjoy live music and food during the free event.

“We have been planning this thing for almost a year,” explained Director Karen Lowe. “We really want this to be a showcase of who we are and what we do.” Beyond offering a unique opportunity to interact with artists as they work, the event also serves as an introduction for many art lovers and unfamiliar locals to become acquainted with the Arts Center.

The center holds year-round classes for artists in traditional mediums like painting, pottery, jewelry-making, printmaking, and mixed-media. Summer camps provide a creative outlet for little ones, and artists of all levels can find suitable classes within their registry.

“There are some people who may have wanted to pursue art before they started their career and have always pushed it aside,” said Lowe, who encourages artists of all skill levels to join the competition and sign up for classes. “You can come and ask any questions because there’s the understanding that this person is coming to this class to learn. Please don’t be intimidated, this is the place for the person who wants to develop that skill.”

The building itself was built between 1901 and 1911 and originally served as an almshouse which housed and fed the elderly, disabled, and poor. Segregated by race, the Chastain Arts Center and what is now the Galloway School housed around 200 residents after the Depression.

It was in 1968 when the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs established the gallery in order to display contemporary local and nationally recognized artists. Walking the halls, it is clear that this institution has a storied past and quite a few longtime students and instructors.

Currently on display in The Shop At Chastain, the center’s  gift shop, are a series of vintage photographs and a video compilation of interviews with students and teachers from days gone by. The Fifty|Fifty show on the shelves in the gift shop features creative interpretations of vessels as imagined by current instructors and employees, and the second installation to follow will feature works in the same theme, this time by students.

The August 11 event is sure to be a fun opportunity for artists and the surrounding community to mingle together, express their creativity, purchase art from local creatives, and get to know the  the city’s oldest art center up close and personal. Artists interested in participating can register in advance by visiting the Chastain Arts Center website for more details.

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