Painting en plein air rejects the idea that art needs to created in a vacuum.
At the sixth Annual Plein Air Fest at the National Museum of Wildlife Art, more than 50 artists will come together to embrace that idea. Throughout much of the day Saturday, artists will set up at the museum’s sculpture trail overlooking the National Elk Refuge and create works of art.
Admission is free for this outdoor extravaganza, which draws the largest crowd of the year to the museum. Not only do museum patrons have the opportunity to browse the freshly painted en plein air artworks and meet the artists, they also get the chance to browse the museum’s impressive array of exceptionally as well.
The museum is currently displaying “Andy Warhol’s Endangered Species,” “Iridescence: John Gould’s Hummingbirds” and “National Geographic Photo Ark: Photographs by Joel Sartore,” in addition to its permanent collection.
“It’s the launch of our summer season both inside and outside and a chance to celebrate the artistic process,” Director of Programs and Events Amy Goicoechea said.
This year’s cohort of artists includes new artists as well as veterans who have participated for many years. Fred Kingwill is one of the artists who lives in Jackson, and this will be his fifth Plein Air Fest.
“Art is something that you share and sharing the art experience with others is a privilege,” Kingwill said.
He said that seeing artists in the flesh is a great equalizer — people of all ages have told him they are inspired to start painting after seeing him work.
“It takes away the mystique of the artist,” Kingwill said.
To Kingwill painting outdoors evokes a whole different feeling than the studio.
“You might not have the most controlled, perfect painting, but you’ll have the most emotional painting,” he said.
Painting en plein air is one of Kingwill’s great loves — he will even teach two plein air workshops at the Art Association this August.
“Plein art goes back as long as there’s been artists,” he said.
After having the chance to interact with artists and the artistic process directly, patrons will have the chance to take a painting home. Starting at 1:30 p.m. the plein air artwork will be sold by silent bid — half goes to the artist and half goes to benefit the museum.
“It’s a win-win for lovers of art who get to donate to the museum and get some art,” Kingwill said.
In addition to the art, local band Major Zephyr will perform. Palate, the museum’s restaurant, will be open normal hours.
It’s a chance to enjoy a long summer day while combining the best of what Jackson has to offer: nature and art
“It’s a great opportunity to celebrate being outside in Jackson Hole and to celebrate local and regional artists,” Goicoechea said.