Painting En Plein Air
Fifty painters competed in the wet paint sale hosted by the City of Southport and Up Your Arts in June.
The salubrious breezes for which Southport is so well known were in full force the weekend of June 18 and 19, 2021, and that made it very pleasant for all the visitors and spectators who were in town for the two-day Plein Air Festival.
However, for the 50 artists who were participating in the festival, hosted by The City of Southport and Up Your Arts, it was a challenge to keep their canvas and paints from blowing away. But they more than met the challenge, producing more than 100 works of art in those two days. And they loved it! They loved being in quaint, picturesque Southport. They loved painting outside. And they loved it that so many spectators stopped by to admire their work.
The artists came from all over. The woman who traveled the farthest came from Oklahoma City. Others arrived from several North Carolina locations, including Swansboro, Charlotte, Raleigh and Wake Forest. Sunset Beach resident Karen Leight came with her art teacher from Myrtle Beach.
“I haven’t had this much fun in ages,” Leight says. “I love Southport; I’ve never been here before. It’s so much better than being at home and being interrupted all the time by my husband.”
The rules were simple: Choose any location that inspires you, paint whatever you see that intrigues you and complete your work in two days. At the end of the painting session, take it to Keziah Park at 3 pm on Saturday and set up your display. The park was closed for one hour, and at precisely 4 pm, visitors, friends, art supporters and others in the area flooded in.
Each attendee was given a ticket to vote for their favorite artist, and whoever got the most votes won the People’s Choice Award. The ticket count indicated that 250 people were there to celebrate the artists and admire their work. The winners were Bekah Haslett, Lyudmila Tomova, Jenny McKinnon Wright, Carol Yaquinto, Nancy Emmerich, Ruth Cox and Janet Boschker. Tomova also won the People’s Choice Award, and that means one of her paintings will be featured in the promotional material, including the t-shirt, for the 2022 Up Your Arts Plein Air Festival.
According to their website, Up Your Arts is “a nonprofit organization with a mission to support and enhance the creative and performing arts throughout the greater Southport area.” But they are really much more than that. They are the umbrella organization that brings Southport’s large number of arts and artisans, dance, music and theater groups together. Their website publishes an up-to-date calendar of events for all local groups.
Up Your Arts’ longer-term project is to work with The City of Southport to preserve and restore the old Brunswick County Courthouse at the corner of Moore and Davis streets and turn it into a major cultural arts center for working artists, live performances and a place to just relax and meet a friend for a drink. Or to put it the way they do, “Our goal is to ‘Save the Hall Y’all’ and put art in the heart of downtown Southport.” If you want to be a part of their effort, you can find out how by visiting their website at: upyourarts.org.