Forgotten Coast plein air - OutdoorPainter.com
Katie Dobson Cundiff, “Southern Comfort, Driftwood Inn”

By Karen Weir-Jimerson

Hurricane Michael hit the towns along the Gulf of Mexico in Florida’s Panhandle with Category 5 strength on October 10, 2018. In a few hours, the 100-mile stretch along the Gulf of Mexico called the Forgotten Coast was impacted in ways that will be felt for years. Amid the crews of disaster responders, plein air artists jumped in from afar.

A Notion Becomes a Mission

It started with a Facebook post. Plein air painter Larry Moore threw a thought into the wind. “I posted the notion on Facebook as a passive request: ‘I’m thinking about putting some of my paintings up for auction to help with recovery for the Forgotten Coast, anybody else wanna come with?’” he wrote. “Before I knew it, there were about 100 offers to contribute, then 200, then 250.”

Forgotten Coast plein air - OutdoorPainter.com
Nancie King Mertz, “Eastpoint Charm”
The Forgotten Coast en Plein Air event just completed its 14th year in May 2019.

A Team Assembles — On the Fly And From Afar

Forgotten Coast en Plein Air board member Denise Rose responded to Larry’s post. Painters Lisa Camilla Hale and Cathleen Windham jumped in too, and the “Operation Fundstorm” team was assembled.

The Plein Air Community Responds

Things moved quickly. Artists from across the country donated 265 paintings, many of which depicted the landscape of the Forgotten Coast. The seven-day art auction (called Operation Fundstorm) raised an astonishing $111,661 for the communities affected. “The bonds forged by the painting events in that area reached far and wide,” said Larry.

Forgotten Coast plein air - OutdoorPainter.com
Donald Demers, “Working Waterfront”

How Operation Fundstorm Helped

The funds from the art sales are being used to support formation and training of a regional disaster corps group of local young adults, themselves impacted by the storm. The young people are developing their skills while working in hurricane recovery tasks in the area. Rebuilding is ongoing. The natural coastal areas are as beautiful as ever. And every day the Forgotten Coast community members are humbled by the generosity and talents of plein air artists and their collectors.

Learn more about the Forgotten Coast Plein Air group: forgottencoastculturalcoalition.wildapricot.org
Follow them on Facebook: www.facebook.com/FCenPA


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