Plein Air magazine - Mark Shasha painting -
"Wish You Were Here" (2019, oil, 14 x 18 in.) by Mark Shasha, available from the artist, plein air This painting portrays the skeleton of the El Governor Motel, which was gutted by Hurricane Michael and is currently under reconstruction.

Discover what’s inside the newest issue of Plein Air magazine, including the Forgotten Coast remembered, 100th anniversary of the Grand Canyon, and more.

Anyone who has stood before a painting or sculpture and felt a pang of longing, fear, or sadness; a rush of happiness or wonder; or experienced new insight into the human condition knows the power of art. But artwork can do so much more than impact how we think or feel; it can compel us to action.

Plein Air Magazine
The cover of our October/November 2019 issue of Plein Air Magazine; art by Bill Cramer (Click here to buy the digital version now)

In this issue, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Grand Canyon National Park. We start by taking a closer look at one of Thomas Moran’s Grand Canyon paintings in our Heritage column. Not only did Moran leave us an incredible legacy of artwork and an appreciation for the ideals of plein air painting, he helped pave the way for the conservation of this country’s natural wonders and the institution of our national park system.

Influenced by the works of J.M.W. Turner, Moran became part of the Hudson River School. He also served as the chief artist for Scribner’s Monthly, a national magazine that covered literature, art, and science. His work there caught the attention of Ferdinand Hayden, who invited the artist on a geological study of the area that included the northwest region of Wyoming. Over the course of the journey, Moran filled his sketchbooks with images of deep caverns, spouting geysers, and sparkling mineral pools.

Before Moran brought the splendor of the Yellowstone region to life with his sketches and paintings, the American public had trouble believing the reports of the wonders it held. By capturing the national imagination with his majestic landscapes, he inspired a generation of Americans to take pride in the wild spaces of the West, even if they might never see them for themselves.

Moran’s paintings came to the attention of the United States Congress and President Ulysses S. Grant, and in 1872, Grant signed the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act into law, making Yellowstone the country’s first national park and, in fact, one of the first national parks in the world. The artist had a similar impact with his paintings of the Grand Canyon, and in the story “From River to Rim,” we talk to five artists who continue the plein air tradition in the region.

We also check in with our friends on the Forgotten Coast to see how they’re recovering after last year’s devastating Hurricane Michael in the story “Forgotten Coast Remembered.” Here again, we see the power of art at work. Feeling helpless, as we often do in the face of a natural disaster, Larry Moore looked for a way to contribute. He found it in his art.

Related article > Hurricane Recovery, Plein Air Style

Moore decided to put a few of his paintings up for auction and donate the proceeds to relief efforts. A number of his friends jumped on board to do the same — artists who had painted the area and wanted to give back or just wanted to help in a uniquely personal way through what became known as Operation Fundstorm.

That spirit of giving back can be seen in the works of plein air events across the country. Many include educational and scholarship opportunities to coincide with their annual events, and for some, those efforts extend to programs all year.

There are so many opportunities to get involved, to give back, to impart change. That’s the beauty of this plein air community; that’s the power of art.

Plein Air magazine, October/November 2019:

OctNov2019 table of contents

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