Adirondack Plein Air Festival
Artists from left to right, Jim Laurino, George Van Hook, Dylan McKnight, Patrick McPhee, Hai-Ou Hou and Vlad Duchev; Photo by Mark Kurtz

By Martha Pritchard Spear

The 15th Annual Adirondack Plein Air Festival was a great success. Artists sold nearly 100 paintings, setting a new record. Festival founder and board president of Saranac Lake ArtWorks, Sandra Hildreth said, “It was a wonderful week for painting and camaraderie with old and new painter friends. Thanks to all the sponsors, especially the Hotel Saranac, Hyde Fuel, and AdkAction.”

The Awards Juror for the event was Mick McAndrews, who is a distinguished watercolorist from Pennsylvania. McAndrews also led a pre-event workshop.

First Place was awarded to George Van Hook, Cambridge, NY, for “High Water.” He received cash and gifts valued at over $2,500, sponsored by ArtWorks, The Village Mercantile, North Country Savings, Golden Artists Colors, Ampersand Art Supply, Cape Air, and PleinAir Magazine / Streamline Publishing. This is George’s third time winning first place.

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Adirondacks Plein Air Festival painting by George Van Hook
First place winning painting, “High Water” by artist George Van Hook; Photo by Sandra Hildreth

Second Place, the Founders “Spirit of the Wilderness” Award, was awarded to Hai-Ou Hou for “Forever Running.” This was the first year this Stevensville, MD artist attended the Saranac Lake event. This award was sponsored by AdkAction and Golden Artists Colors. It is named in honor of Sandra Hildreth, current board president and founder of the Adirondack Plein Air Festival.

Third place was awarded to Jim Laurino of Litchfield, CT, for “Open Door On Franklin Avenue.” This award was sponsored by Mary Ann and Jody Hoyt in memory of Tom Boothe, and by Adirondack Health.

Patrick McPhee’s “Whiteface From Little Cherry Patch Pond” won the Artists Guild Award. McPhee had the second-highest sales of the event. The artist is from Binghamton, NY, and has attended the event for many years, often winning a prize!

Vlad Duchev, Baltimore, MD, won The BookStore Plus Award for “After A Long Day.”

Hai-Ou Hou also won the Nocturne Contest for “Quietude,” as selected by artist Jackie Altman and sponsored by Tri-Lakes Federal Credit Union. Hou was among the top five sellers.

Kari Ruiz of Interlaken, NY, won the Quick Draw Competition, judged by Jennifer Bilow of Downtown Artists Cellar in Malone, and sponsored by Adirondack Health. Ruiz was another of the top five sellers.

Anik McGrory of Rye, NY, earned the Paul Smiths VIC Award for her watercolor, “Where The Otters Play.”

“Lake Flower Morning” by Dylan McKnight of Framingham, MA, was recognized with an Honorable Mention Award. McKnight was attending for the first time and ended up becoming the top seller at the event, sending 8 paintings of the Adirondacks to new homes.

The Peoples Choice Award went to Robin Roberts of Ashland, OH. Roberts was another first-time attendee and one of the top five sellers.

The final award of the event was the Artist Choice Award. A majority of the 37 artists chose Jennifer Sampson, Norwood, NY, to receive their accolades.

Next year’s Adirondack Plein Air Festival will be held August 12-17. Registration for artists will open on February 1, 2024.

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