For the last five years, painters have gathered in March at a historic rice plantation to paint. Just paint. No prizes, no judging, just a 150-year-old plantation house on grounds shaded by enormous, moss-bedecked live oaks.
The event is called the Albert Hendig-Hofwyl Plein Air Affair, and it’s held at the Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation, a state park on the southern Georgia coast. Some of the oak trees are estimated to be 800 years old, and the grounds are beautiful. But like many state parks, it doesn’t receive generous funding. Enter the Friends of Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation.
“This event is designed to promote historic preservation,” says George Netherton, of the non-profit group. “Albert Fendig has been an attorney most of his working life, and he’s done more for historic preservation in this area than anyone else. He is also an artist, and has been his whole life. This is how we honor him, with a plein air event. It combines the two things he loves. The Plein Air Affair honors Al, it brings awareness to people about historic preservation and the plantation specifically, and it brings artists together to have a good time and paint.”
The event doesn’t end with just the day of painting. The completed pieces travel as an exhibition around the area, on view at a hospital, in the Goodyear Cottage on Jekyll Island, at the St. Simons Island welcome center, at the Marsh’s Edge retirement community, and then back to the Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation, where it will hang in the auditorium at the entrance to the park until next year’s Plein Air Affair.
“Al’s Plein Air Affair, as we call it, is normally held in late March or at the very beginning of April,” says Netherton. “We get anywhere from 35 to 50 artists, and we always do it on a Saturday that avoids other events or holidays. We have had great weather every year. Last year it called for rain all day, but it never did show up. Even if it did, the artists could go under porches or to outbuildings. The weather was just perfect this Saturday.”
“The plein air events at Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation give artists an incredible view of historic foundations and nature that can be found no where else,” says Troup Nightingale, another key member of the Friends of Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation. “It is a target-rich environment for painters and photographers who desire to expand their craft. The artists and the plantation get exposure through the traveling art show that occurs after each event. If you are an artist or photographer, you will have plenty to encourage your endeavors at Hofwyl — there is nothing else like it anywhere.”