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Bringing public art to the streets

June 20, 2013
From staff reports , The Herald-Star

WHEELING - Members of Artworks Around Town announce an outdoor painting event that will serve as a way to support artists in the area and bring public art to the streets of Wheeling.

Paint Historic Wheeling: Plein Air will take place Aug 2-4. All artists are invited to participate.

Painting "en plein air" is a French expression for painting "in the open air," which is exactly what dozens of artists from West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania will do.

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Artworks Around Town is organizing an outdoor painting event that will serve as a way to support artists in the area and bring public art to the streets of Wheeling. Paint Historic Wheeling: Plein Air will take place Aug. 2-4. Artists from throughout the region are invited to bring their paint boxes and easels to capture Wheeling’s charming neighborhoods on canvas. Event organizers are, from left, Greg Siegwart, Liz Neumann, Bill Rettig and Lynne Mamone. — Contributed

They will bring their paint boxes and easels to capture Wheeling's charming neighborhoods on canvas.

Paintings created throughout the weekend will be showcased in public exhibitions at the Artworks gallery.

Many of the pieces will be for sale.

Paint Historic Wheeling is the eighth-annual plein air event to take place in the city. Previous events have been held at Oglebay Resort.

According to event organizer Liz Neumann, this change of venue will provide participating artists with "new and interesting vistas to paint" and is an opportunity for area residents to "see the beauty of our city through the eyes of talented artists."

Neumann said the dates of the event coincide with Wheeling's popular Grecian Festival, presented by St. John the Divine Greek Orthodox Church.

"This festival attracts thousands of visitors each year. There will be a lot of foot traffic in the city. Residents and visitors will be strolling through the downtown and centre market area, and can watch the artists at work and view the exhibits. It will be an added attraction to the festival and will provide increased exposure for the artists and their work," she said.

Neumann said artists may choose to paint anywhere around the city - Victorian Old Town, the Historic Centre Market District, along the waterfront with beautiful views of the Ohio River and the historic Wheeling Suspension Bridge.

"Wheeling's charming neighborhoods feature plenty of inspiration from downtown streetscapes to unique architectural structures to rural landscapes, waterways and gardens," added Neumann.

Encompassing a variety of media, from oils to watercolors and pastels, plein air painting originated in 19th century Europe and has roots in both realism and impressionism.

It's a familiar concept today, but in the late 1800s when artists ventured out of their studios into nature to investigate and capture the effects of sunlight and different times of days on a subject, it was quite revolutionary.

An avid plein air painter who has traveled the world to paint with other outdoor artists, Neumann explained that plein air artists tackle heat, cold, wind and rain to complete their works entirely outdoors.

An artist may begin a painting in the early morning and finish at dusk. During that time shapes, patterns and colors shift in the changing light.

"Plein air painting is very challenging. It's part of gaining confidence in your work - putting it out there for others to see while it's still in progress," she said.

She added that gathering groups of artists together to paint outdoors in a central location "builds camaraderie among artists as they share experiences and encouragement and is a wonderful way to bring art to people who might otherwise never see it."

Artists participating in Paint Historic Wheeling will enjoy three days of painting throughout Wheeling as well as the opportunity to participate in workshops, listen to speakers and share inspiration with their peers.

Artists will paint on location throughout Wheeling from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 2-3; and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 4. Any painter, regardless of experience or education, is invited to participate.

There is a nominal fee to participate, and painters may attend one, two or all three days.

Public receptions and exhibits take place from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 3; and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 4 at Artworks Around Town and are free and open to the public. Guests will enjoy food, drink, mingling with the artists and an opportunity to view and purchase artwork.

Artists wishing to participate should e-mail Neumann at or call (304) 277-1733.

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