The Peninsula School of Art (PenArt) is going mostly virtual for the Door County Plein Air Festival in 2020. The event will be held July 19 through August 7.

For 15 years, PenArt has hosted the nationally-recognized Door County Plein Air Festival, attracting artists and collectors from around the country. In the past, the Festival has featured a week-long series of events with artists painting Door County followed by a two week exhibition. One of the highlights has been the Saturday Quick Paint, Auction and Kids’ Paint which attracts thousands to Sister Bay’s Waterfront Park. This year, due to the current health concerns over large gatherings, PenArt has made the decision to take much of the event online.

“This year is the 15th anniversary of the Door County Plein Air Festival and over the years, it has become a Door County tradition. We had to find a way to continue the event is some way – for us, our supporters and the artists, who have been hit especially hard by closures and cancellations related to Covid-19,” said PenArt Executive Director Catherine Hoke.

PenArt reached out to the invited field of 38 nationally-renowned painters to gauge their interest in participating in a virtual event. “They were incredibly enthusiastic and offered lots of suggestions for how we might structure the event,” said Hoke. These artists will also be invited to participate in the 2021 Door County Plein Air Festival, July 25-31, 2021.

For the 2020 event, each artist will create one small work, which PenArt will have shipped to the school. In addition, they will create one competition piece “en plein air.” from their location, and two to three additional pieces. PenArt is creating a portfolio of reference photos of Door County available to artists if they wish to create pieces specifically of the area. Artists who can or wish to travel to Door County may choose to paint on location in early summer.

PenArt has made the decision to reduce its commission by 10% on all artwork sales to support the invited artists during this time. “The financial impacts from Covid-19 have been immense for all involved,” said Hoke. Summer workshop cancellations and the cancellation of an in-person Plein Air event, represent a loss of over half a million dollars in revenue for PenArt. This does not include associated lodging and spending by visitors and students in the Door County community. “Artists have seen every event and gallery exhibition cancelled for the season, and the Door County Plein Air Festival is our largest fundraiser. Anything we can do to help these artists, while also bringing great art to our community, and supporting PenArt financially, is a win all around,” said Hoke.

Additional information on the 2020 Door County Plein Air Festival and other programs can be found at

> Click here to subscribe to the free newsletter, Plein Air Today
> And click here to subscribe to PleinAir Magazine so you never miss an issue!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here