Painting at the Escalante Canyons Art Festival in Utah is a chance to depict the wonderful red rocks of the region — and maybe take home some ribbons and cash. Here’s how it went a couple of weeks ago.
The festival is different from many in that it clearly puts a stress on making plein air painting inviting to the general public. There are prizes for painters as young as kindergarten age, and the event itself is an open competition with no jurying. Best of Show winners in each category are not eligible to enter the competition for the next two years to ensure that no one dominates the event, and an artist can only win People’s Choice once in his or her lifetime. Artists cannot sign their pieces before the judging, to help make the decisions more impartial; they sign the front of the canvas immediately following the judging so the paintings are ready for sale.

“Color of the Wild,” by Carol Bold, 2015, acrylic, 11 x 14 in.
Best of Show in the Escalante Canyons Art Festival Plein Air Competition

So who won this year? The two big winners were Carol Bold, who won Best of Show — Oil & Acrylic, and Manny Mellor, who won Best of Show — Watercolor & Mixed Media. Best of Show awards earn the winner $1,500.
Mauriel Morejon won People’s Choice; that comes with a cash prize of $250. Joshua Baird won the Artists’ Choice award; he earned a 1/4-page ad in PleinAir magazine for his win.

Bold’s setup on location when she painted the award-winning piece

Two Awards of Merit worth $500 each were given in the two categories. Rae Ellen Lee and Mona Woolsey won for Watercolor & Mixed Media, while Doug Braithwaite and Jacob Tarazoff won in Oil & Acrylic. Honorable Mention in Watercolor & Mixed Media went to Jeff Dunn, Scott Geary, Carol Johansen, Rick Kinateder, and Lewis Williams. Honorable Mention in Oil & Acrylic went to Terry Chacon, Dennis Farris, Katy Fox, Mary Jabens, and Lewis Williams.

Manny Mellor with his piece that won People’s Choice and Best of Show — Watercolor & Mixed Media

There was also a Paint-Out. Brad Holt took First Place, with Loretta Domaszewski winning Second and Rick Kinateder earning Third.
Bonnie Griffith was named the GSENM Artist in Residence, and Dave Treanor won the Escalante River Award.

Joshua Baird with his piece that won Artists’ Choice

In the K-6th Grade results, Adelheide Johansen won First, Ryen Treanor won Second, and Tyler Leavitt took Third. In the 7th-12th Grade results, Aspen McKnight won First Place and Shianne Shakespeare won Second Place.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here