The Grand Canyon Celebration of Art always seems like one of most dazzling of plein air events, thanks in large part to its subject. Who were the lucky painters who were a part of it and won prizes?
James McGrew won the People’s Choice award for the fourth year in a row. Artists’ Choice went to Robert Dalegowski. The Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine Collector’s Choice award was won by Mark Weber.
And Best of Show, which was sponsored by PleinAir magazine, went to Marcia Molnar, of Prescott, Arizona.

“Evening’s Cadence,” by Marcia Molnar. Molnar won the Best of Show award, sponsored by PleinAir magazine.

“I live two hours away, so I can go there any time I want,” says Molnar. “The weather is the same in Prescott as it is at the canyon, so if I want to paint a storm, I wait for rain and head out there. There’s a magic about the canyon. When you wait for sunset at the canyon, the light comes in waves, like the ocean. I stand at the rim and feel very small and yet significant. It is a very special place for me.”

Excitement at the auction. Photo by Terri Attridge

Molnar fully immersed herself in the canyon before and after the event. She camped for more than a week on the North and South Rim before the Celebration began, then stayed for nine more days afterward. “Watching the full moon from my tent just made me so happy,” says Molnar. “I was painting at Yaqui Point when the full moon came up behind me, and it was just magical.”

Michelle Condrat’s first year in the event’s Quick Draw competition resulted in an auction price of $5,000 for her piece. Photo by Terri Attridge

The artist beat out some of the top names in plein air for her award. Her focus was clearly on the beauty of the canyon — not the competition. Maybe that’s one reason she won.
“I was surprised and delighted to win,” she says. “I wasn’t thinking about the fact that I won with all those great painters there, but afterward I thought, wow. I’ve been painting my whole life and was maybe the oldest one there.”


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