by Bob Bahr, Editor PleinAir Today
In just its third year, this event in San Angelo, in Texas Hill Country, is drawing raves from the top names in plein air painting.
Jason Sacran won the Grand Prize this year at EnPleinAirTEXAS with his oil painting “The Back Way.” Although the top winner is generally enthusiastic about an event, his level of appreciation of EPAT was echoed across social media by other painters.
“This one has the essential things you must have for a big event,” says Sacran. “You need buyers with money. You need decent prize opportunity — unless sales are so great that it trumps awards. And then, if the organization is great, it’s a big perk. Last year, as soon as the show opened, there were so many red dots on the wall, it was like a machine gun was shooting them. I suspect that this year’s sales beat last year’s. I saw bigger paintings, more ambitious pieces, and lots of sales.”
Sacran reiterates, “They sell a lot of paintings. Their buyers are so enthusiastic, and the organization is so friendly. The staff, the volunteers — the community too — they all get in there. Nobody is overbearing — they understand you are busy. They are there to help. This stems from Barbara Rallo, the organizer, who did years of homework and goes to the big events every year and takes notes, and asks artists for advice. She is unlike any other event head I have met. Her passion to succeed is there. They really put the artist first. I hear a lot of events saying that, but I truly believe that at this one it is true.”
In addition to Sacran’s Elta Joyce Murphey Award — the Grand Prize at EPAT — Second Place was awarded to Patrick Saunders for “Mustang Sally’s,” and Shelby Keefe won Third with “Mercer’s Outside Looking In.” Jill Basham won Artists’ Choice with “The Garland of Texas,” and the Spirit of San Angelo Award went to Danny Griego for “Bubba’s Smokehouse.” The Texas Precious Water Award went to Stewart White for “Creek Bed With Fish,” and the Texas Ranchland Award was won by Mary Pettis for “The Ladies’ Society.”
Nyle Gordon won Best Architecture for “Cactus Hotel,” and the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts Purchase Award was given to Hiu Lai Chong for “By Dusk’s Early Light.” Ray Hassard and Jill Basham won Awards of Distinction. PleinAir magazine’s own Turner Vinson won Best Non-Competition Painting. Marc Hanson was the judge.