I don’t know what I was expecting at the Plein Air Convention & Expo, but it wasn’t this…
The Buffalo Thunder resort is buzzing with the energy of familiar friends meeting again, new friends introducing themselves, and the thrill of being together in the same location to paint, learn, grow, and expand our skills and love of art during the Plein Air Convention & Expo.
The level of emotion and gratitude at being able to come together this year is beyond description. Many of us arrived here in Santa Fe from nine different countries on Monday, with greetings starting not in the demo area, not in the lobby, but as early as flights from all over as painters connected en route. The nearby fires don’t seem to be a threat although the air does appear smoky in some areas, and our hearts go out to everyone affected by them. Follow #PACE22 on Instagram to see what landscape paintings come from this week; they might reflect the recent/current atmospheric qualities.
Our Opening Ceremony took all the buzz to a whole new level, with the infamous Plein Air Wars: Battle of the Mediums. This PACE staple is a hilarious, competitive (sort of), painting match in which four different artists take the stage with a limited amount of time and some interesting curve balls thrown in for good measure (example: they had to use their non-dominant hand to paint with, and wore a cowbell on the other just to make sure they weren’t cheating!). The winner, based on the enthusiastic audience applause, got to take home a special Plein Air Wars palette.
Next, we got to hear from Eric Rhoads himself, the producer, CEO, and publisher of PACE and so much more. With Eric this year are his wife and young adult triplets to join in the fun and festivities. We gave a shout-out to Davis Perkins, a plein air artist and medic who has volunteered to lend a helping hand if needed.
One of the special presentations included a world-premiere screening of “Painting My Way ’Cross the USA — By Bicycle,” featuring Lewis Williams and his exciting plein air practices. Afterward, we had artists spin the beloved Prize Wheel, in which we gave away prizes from Streamline such as art workshop DVDs and even a trip to Fall Color Week in Maine.
The party wasn’t over yet, though – in a cinematic turn we celebrated epic artists during the Lifetime Achievement Awards, recognizing the impact of Joe Anna Arnett and Johnnie and Ralph Liliedahl. “I truly am one of the luckiest people on earth,” Joe Anna said in her acceptance speech. Ralph accepted the award for himself and Johnnie (rest in peace), saying they were grateful for Streamline carrying on the Lilliedahl legacy, and adding that Johnnie herself was “the hub of the business.”
After these presentations, we dove right into a painting demonstration with PleinAir Salon winner Dave Santillanes. It was the perfect prep for the next feature in our lineup: announcing the winners of this year’s PleinAir Salon awards. Watch the live stream here to see who won!
The first days of PACE also included a pre-convention workshop with Santa Fe local Kevin Macpherson, who led a two-day session that broke down the complexity of painting and revealed the magical process in simple-to-understand terms.
Other exciting happenings included a surprise appearance by mojigangas of Vincent Van Gogh and Frida Khalo, the opening of the Exposition Hall with vendors galore, a demonstration from Mark Fehlman, our annual Newcomer’s Orientation, an interactive pre-convention Basics Course led by Carrie Curran, and last but not least, the opening night cocktail party.
Whew! What a day! Stay tuned as we report with more unforgettable events from this year’s PACE, and remember that you can join us online if you can’t be here in person – we’d still love for you to be a part of it all!
Join us June 1 for a free webinar on “The Future of Pastel” with Eric Rhoads and Gail Sibley! Simply visit FutureOfPastel.com to watch on June 1 at 2:00pm EST.