When a book publisher mentioned that a book on plein air painters from the Mid-Atlantic states might be something his company would want to publish, Gary Pendleton knew the right person to put such a tome together. 

For better or worse, that person was Pendleton himself. “I wasn’t looking to take on such a project, but on reflection I realized that I was in a position to do it,” says Pendleton. “I was president of the Mid-Atlantic Plein Air Painters Association for about five years and I have been active on the plein air circuit for a while, so I know a lot of artists. I realized that I had the wherewithal to do the job.” The result was 100 Plein Air Painters of the Mid-Atlantic.

The cover of Gary Pendleton’s book, 100 Plein Air Painters of the Mid-Atlantic

“I wanted to help the artists get the recognition they deserve, and I realized that it was also an opportunity to write about the history,” Pendleton explains. “At one point Lisa Egeli told me that I would end up being the guy that artists would turn to to learn about the history. I hope there is some truth to that. Her comment motivated me to put as much history in the book as I could get away with. I suspect that most artists like to think that they are part of the history and would appreciate knowing more about it.”

“Overcast Day, Franklin City,” by Denise Dumont, oil, 8 x 10 in.

The large and attractive book has earned positive feedback from artists, which perhaps reinforces Lisa Egeli’s point. The book will be celebrated with an exhibition at McBride Gallery in Annapolis, Maryland, which opens November 15 and will be on view until December 7. “This exhibit is historic in the art world,” McBride Gallery owner Cynthia McBride says. “Viewing the work of 100 of the top painters in the Mid-Atlantic in one exhibit, tied to a book documenting their history and art influences with an opportunity to meet the artists, is extraordinary.”

“River Farm,” by Gary Pendleton, oil, 11 x 14 in.

The book doesn’t just celebrate 100 artists; it uncorks a living tradition for art lovers and collectors. Pendleton says,  “It presents an impressive display of worthy art in one volume, allowing people with a passing curiosity to become immersed in a body of work that they otherwise might never have encountered, except possibly in fragments. It is exciting for them and for me, too, when they make the discovery.”

“Big and Small Beech Clusters,” by Ron Boehmer, oil on linen, 30 x 40 in.

From the time of its release, the book raised the question of whether similar volumes focusing on other regions might have similar success. Pendleton is optimistic about that, and he may have been bit by the publishing bug, judging by recent comments. In his sights is a Maryland artist named Louis Feuchter (1885-1957). “I never expected to do a book, but I have some ideas and I might — repeat might — do another,” says Pendleton. “Drawing was second nature to Feuchter. He liked to hang around the docks at Fells Point in Baltimore where he lived, or sail around the Chesapeake, drawing and painting the work boats that plied the bay. He was an excellent draftsman and had an Impressionist feeling for capturing light and atmosphere. He rarely sold his work, but there are enough examples of his work in museums and private collections to put together a small volume, and I think he deserves the recognition.”


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