In the mountains of northern New Mexico, a new plein air festival is gaining ground — the “Wild Rivers Plein Air Paint Out: Places We Love in the Questa Area.” The event started in the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument of Wild Rivers and spanned about a 60-mile radius, with Questa, NM — off the beaten path and with much undiscovered scenery — at its heart. With 52 artists displaying 136 paintings at the Brass Rail Theater in Red River, NM, this show established itself in a classic venue. The paint out was held July 17–20, culminating in a two-day display celebration that resulted in 16 sales.
The event drew artists from eight states and awarded over $5,000 in cash and prizes. This is an open show catering to everyone, and it has a fun and creative feel to it. The organizers offered five demonstrations that focused on non-traditional techniques, including palette knife painting by Terry Chacon, print making by Carol Bold, and painting with cold wax by Bonnie Griffith and Lewis Williams.
Judging was done by Lewis Williams and Bonnie Griffith in Landscape, Architecture, Wild and Scenic, and Best Experimental. Artists’ Choice and People’s Choice were also awarded.
Winners in the Landscape category:
1st Place – Louise Sackett
2nd Place – Jacob Tarazoff
3rd Place – Tobi Clement
Honorable Mention – Carol Bold
Winners in the Architecture category:
1st Place – Ken Reguard (shown at top)
2nd Place – Donna Barnhill
3rd Place – Carrie Schultz
Honorable Mention – Susan De’Armond
Winners in the Wild and Scenic category:
1st Place – Carol Bold
2nd Place – Natasha Isenhour
3rd Place – Donna Barnhill
Honorable Mention – Terry Chacon
Best Experimental – Ruthann Oliver
People’s Choice Award – Boneta Curry
Artists’ Choice Award – Natasha Isenhour
Quick Draw Winners:
1st Place – Donna Barnhill
2nd Place – Carol Bold
3rd Place – Louise Sackett
Honorable Mention – Carrie Schultz
“This was the best paint-out I’ve ever attended, and the best art I’ve ever seen at one of these,” said artist Barbara Bartels of Taos. Other artists commented that the talent and painting demonstrations were high-quality, and the show was open to diverse styles, making it exciting and experimental.
The painters appreciated the community spirit of the local organizers, with a laid-back, fun, and supportive attitude. Look for the event next year in mid-July. The Wild Rivers Plein Air Paint Out is a project of the nonprofit Questa Creative Council.