13th Annual Telluride Plein Air

13th Annual Telluride Plein Air

The Sheridan Arts Foundation’s 10th annual Telluride Plein Air event begins this week through the Fourth of July. New this year are two mini paint-outs in Mountain Village, Wednesday, June 29, to coincide with the Farmers’ Market, 1-3 p.m. and with the Sunset Concert Series, 5-7 p.m., with the judging and paintings for sale at 3:15 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Scroll down to check out the rest of the schedule below.

Eugene Boudin was one of the more adventurous 19th-century painters, known primarily for his beach scenes and seascapes of northern France and for his luminous skies. One of Boudin’s students was a young painter named Claude Monet, to whom Boudin taught the importance of painting a scene directly from nature in the light, in the air, just as it was. In the stroke of Monet’s brush, painting en plein air was born. Out went the dark palette of Realism and the Barbizon School. Here comes the sun.

(Go ahead, sing it.)

Rita Pacheco, Colorado Avenue, Telluride Plein Air 2015.

Rita Pacheco, Colorado Avenue, Telluride Plein Air 2015.

When they first came on the scene back in 1874, artists who ultimately became brand names – Monet, Manet, Renoir, Bonnard, and Degas – were considered rebels. Defying the traditions of the official Salon de Paris, they moved their studios outdoors into the open air – en plein air – to facilitate direct observation of nature.

They originally called themselves “Societe Anonyme,” but a critic hatched what he believed to be a derisive handle based on the title of one of Monet’s paintings in a group show, “Impression: Sunrise.”

2015 Artist’s Choice Award, Carl Bretzke.

2015 Artist’s Choice Award, Carl Bretzke.

The Impressionists chose to use landscapes and scenes from everyday life as covers for their true subjects, color and light, defying a trend popular throughout the 19th century (and with the Salon de Paris) to paint historical or literary subjects.


It’s an old idea.

With new blood.

From Tuesday, June 28 – Monday, July 4, 27 nationally recognized American plein air artists pick up where the old guard left off,  painting in and around Telluride for the Sheridan Arts Foundation‘s 10th annual Telluride Plein Air event.

The fruits of their labors – images of flower-filled meadows, purple mountain majesties, colorful town scenes –  go on display Saturday, July 2 and Monday, July 4, at the Sheridan Arts Foundation’s exhibition and sale.

Artists typically paint 10 to 20 pieces, which means more than 300 works to view and purchase over the course of the sale (only eight-10 pieces displayed at one time).

Patrick Saunder, Coronet Creek, 2015, Telluride Plein Air.

Patrick Saunder, Cornet Creek, 2015, Telluride Plein Air.


Plein Air artists were selected through a juried process, their work (along with a biography) vetted by a panel of artists, gallery owners, and educators. The only exceptions were the top five sellers from the class of 2015  –Susie Baker, Douglas Morgan, Wayne McKenzie, Mat Barber Kennedy and Christine Lashley, plus Carl Bretzem, the 2015 Artist Choice Winner– who were automatically invited back.

The Sheridan Arts Foundation created Telluride Plein Air a decade ago to benefit community programming and restoration at Telluride’s historic Sheridan Opera House.

The Sheridan Opera House has provided quality entertainment to Telluride for the past 103 years. All artwork profits will be split, with 40 percent benefiting the Sheridan Arts Foundation’s community programming; 60 percent retained by the painters.

2016 Telluride Plein Air artists includes:



Suzie Baker, TX

Bob Beck, WI

Michael Brooks, CO

Mat Barber Kennedy, IL

Carl Bretzke, MN

Thomas Buchs, WI

David Dallison, IL P

atricia Duncan, MN

Tatyana Fogarty, CA

Nancy Haley, CO

Marjorie Hicks, TN

Christine Lashley, VA

Susan Lynn, KS

Meridee Mandio, NM

Ann McMillan, CA

Wayne McKenzie, CA

Lorie Merfeld-Batson, CO

Bill Meurser, CA

Dan Mondloch, MN

Elaine Monnig, TX

Douglas Morgan, CA

Suzanne Morris, VA

Mikyoung Osburn, CA

Tim Peterson  SD

Richard Prather, NM

Edward Reed, VA

Robin Weiss, WA

Schedule of Events:


June 28 – July 1, 2016 – all day

Plein Air Artists at Work, various locations in and around Telluride: Visitors and locals alike will have the unique opportunity to observe 32 of the nation’s top plein air artists as they paint on location in Telluride, preparing for the three day art sale later in the week. 

June 29-30 – 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Wet Room Open in Sheridan Opera House

Artists will hang newly completed pieces for viewing and sale in the days leading up to the main sale. This is a perfect way for people who won’t be in town for the Fourth of July holiday to purchase artwork in advance, or for others to get a preview of what will be available at the sale.

June 29 (1-3 p.m. & 5-7 p.m.) 

Mountain Village Paint Outs: See the artists in action during the Farmers Market and Sunset Concert Series for two fun Paint Outs. Each winner will be awarded $250.

Friday, July 1, 2016 

Artist Choice Preview: Stop by the Sheridan Opera House to preview or purchase each artist’s favorite piece created throughout the week and get a sneak peak of the Opera House Bar. All paintings will be up for sale.

4-6 p.m. VIP Artist Choice Preview and Wine Tasting: Annual supporters of the Sheridan Opera House will be invited for a wine and cheese party to preview the crème de la crème of Telluride Plein Air.

6-8 p.m.: Open to the public: The Artist Choice winner will be awarded $1,500 at 7 p.m.

Saturday-Monday, July 2-4, 2016

Plein Air Exhibition & Art Sale – Sheridan Opera House Courtyard /Elks ParkThis event is free and open to the public! Plein Air posters, notecards, and small prints will be available for sale.

July 2- 11 a.m.-7 p.m., July 3 – 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. & July 4 – 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. (pause from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. for the Fourth of July parade)

Join the Sheridan Opera House in the courtyard and Elks Park for a sale of paintings created during the week-long celebration. Please note that artists are limited to hanging eight paintings at one time, so new paintings will continually be displayed as others sell — especially on the second day of the sale.

Vote for your favorite artist throughout the sale; Crowd Favorite will be awarded $1,500 on July 4 at 2 p.m. in front of the Opera House.

Please note: if there is inclement weather, the sale will be moved inside the Sheridan Opera House theater. 


All net proceeds retained by the Sheridan Arts Foundation will benefit community programming of the Sheridan Arts Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit operating out of the historic Sheridan Opera House. The SAF’s mission is to preserve the historic Sheridan Opera House as an arts and cultural resource for the Telluride community, bring quality arts and cultural events to Telluride, and provide local and national youth with access and exposure to the arts through education.

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