A plein air artist creates at last year’s event. [ Mark Brannigan | Contributed ]
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Plein air event offers lots for local community

The 19th annual Forgotten Coast en Plein Air event returns March 15 – 24, bringing internationally recognized artists to document the landscape and culture of the region through the plein air process. 

The event features artists’ demonstrations, lectures, receptions and exhibits which, with few exceptions, are free and open to the public.

The French term “en Plein air” translates to “in the outdoors,” and so artists take their easels, paints and canvas outdoors, braving conditions of changing light, challenging weather and pesky insects to capture the spirit and essence of the subject or scene in front of them. 

Artwork produced by the invited artists during this year’s 10-day event will be exhibited at the Wet Room held this year at The Joe Center for the Arts, 201 Reid Avenue in Port St. Joe. New work, fresh-from-the-easel, is brought in daily to the Wet Room with the exhibit growing throughout the event. 

Other free exhibits will be at the Center for History, Culture and Art, 86 Water Street in Apalachicola; the Mexico Beach Welcome Center, 102 Canal Parkway in Mexico Beach; and the Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce, 17 Avenue E in Apalachicola. 

The event opens Friday, March 15 with a public reception welcoming the artists, at noon at the Coastal Resilience Training Center, 60 Island Drive in Eastpoint. There will also be receptions following artist demonstrations in Carrabelle, Eastpoint, St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve, Mexico Beach and St. George Island. 

Two artists who came to the Forgotten Coast earlier in the year to tackle issues of community concern will provide two presentations, with receptions in their honor where their work is exhibited, that will reflect on their artist residency experiences Charles Dickinson, who has participated every year since the event’s inception, will present his paintings from his “Time and Resilience” residency, reflecting on 18 years documenting the area’s changes through painting. His reception will be Friday, March 15, at 6:30 p.m. at the Wet Room. A reception for Kathie Odom’s residency “Within the Walls of the Forgotten Coast,” which takes a look at places where people work and call home. will be Sunday, March 17, at 6:30 p.m. at the Wet Room.

Plein Air Church, an outdoor worship service featuring gospel music and performance by Forgotten Coast community members, will be Sunday morning, March 17 from 9 until 11 a.m. at Riverfront Park in Apalachicola,
[ FOMO Photography | Contributed ]

Plein Air Church, an outdoor worship service featuring gospel music and performance by Forgotten Coast community members, has become a memorable and moving part of the event. Artists will be capturing the Sunday morning, March 17 service, from 9 until 11 a.m. at Riverfront Park in Apalachicola, and the public is invited to witness and worship, or even to bring an easel to record the celebration.

Another annual tradition, Student Art Day, will be Wednesday, March 20 at 11 a.m. at 2B East Gulf Beach Drive on St. George Island. Each invited artist is paired with a student from the Gulf and Franklin County high schools to mentor and guide in creating a plein air work of art. The public is invited to come and watch creativity blossom; all student artwork is then exhibited at the Wet Room.

Student Art Day on Wednesday, March 20 at 11 a.m. on St. George Island pairs artists with students from the Gulf and Franklin County high schools. [ FOMO Photography | Contributed ]

A series of four luncheon sessions, “Lunch and Learn” presentations will feature invited artists as instructors, presenting tips, techniques and insights about plein air art. A $20 fee covers the cost of lunch, beverage and table seating, and must be reserved in advance. People are welcome to attend the sessions at no cost without the lunch, and bag lunches may be brought in.

For a nominal fee, aspiring artists can spend two hours with a professional artist for a one-on-one painting experience taught by one of four accomplished Florida plein air painters and teachers – the Florida’s Finest Ambassadors. Many of these “Painting Stations” have sold out, but limited spots are still available and registration is through www.ForgottenCoastenPleinAir.com.

“The Forgotten Coast is a uniquely special place to all of us,” said Susan Bassett, president of the Forgotten Coast Cultural Coalition board. “We are committed to sharing the plein air art experience with students, locals, and visitors. Proceeds from our event go back into our communities, extending the reach of our 10-day event year round.” 

The Forgotten Coast en Plein Air is hosted by the Forgotten Coast Cultural Coalition, a 501(c)3 organization which organizes cultural activities along the Forgotten Coast from Alligator Point to Mexico Beach. The event, conceived as a way to document the regional history and culture, and to highlight the preservation and awareness of Florida’s natural resources, later incorporated artist residencies to tackle wide-ranging issues of community concern and provide opportunities for dialogue.

A percentage of each Forgotten Coast en Plein Air painting sale is used to benefit the arts in Forgotten Coast communities. Event proceeds have benefitted educational, cultural and health care facilities, including youth programs and initiatives addressing volunteerism and the inception of The Joe Center for the Arts. The event and its host, the Forgotten Coast Cultural Coalition, are volunteer run by community members with an interest in offering these activities for free or low cost to residents and visitors. New volunteers are welcome. 

Full information and details about events and activities may be obtained by calling 800-378-8419 or by visiting www.forgottencoastenpleinair.com.

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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