By Christine Gianas Weinheimer EBS CONTRIBUTOR
Most of us have had opportunities to view and admire art, but how often do we get to see a work of art in the making? Visitors to Yellowstone National Park will soon have that chance during the second annual Yellowstone Plein Air Invitational, taking place Sept. 24 to 29. Hosted by Yellowstone Forever, the park’s official nonprofit partner, the event celebrates the current and historical presence of art in Yellowstone, as some of the nation’s best artists paint “en plein air” throughout the park.
Artists were among the first to bring proof to the American public of the natural wonders and wildlife found within Yellowstone. These early paintings and drawings are believed to have helped convince Congress in 1872 that this landscape was exceptionally valuable and should be preserved for all time.
“Art still plays a significant role in the park,” said Yellowstone Forever President and CEO John Walda. “In addition to helping us see Yellowstone in new and creative ways, the work of artists inspires others to visit, cherish and protect this magnificent place.”
Most of the Yellowstone Plein Air Invitational activities are free and open to the public with park admission. Visitors can attend daily painting demonstrations at scenic landmarks around the park, as well as a family-friendly plein air painting activity on Saturday. The event will culminate with a weekend art exhibition during which accomplished painter and distinguished museum director Ian McKibbin White will give a keynote address and judge the art entries.
“Last year’s inaugural event was spectacular,” Walda said. “We are thrilled that this year’s Yellowstone Plein Air Invitational has grown to feature 16 extraordinarily talented artists from around the country, and that Ian McKibbin White has agreed to play such a significant role.”
On Saturday evening, a banquet, exhibition and art auction will be held at Old Faithful Lodge Recreation Hall. During this ticketed event, studio paintings from each artist will be exhibited alongside a selection of the artists’ plein air “wet paintings” produced during the week. On the final day, September 29, the art exhibition and sale will be open to the public.
Yellowstone Forever is the official education and fundraising nonprofit partner of Yellowstone National Park. Proceeds from the event will benefit priority projects and education initiatives in the park.
Maps of specific artist demonstration locations will be available the week of the event at all of Yellowstone Forever’s Park Stores park-wide.
For more event details including a list of artists, or to purchase tickets for the Saturday evening event, visit yellowstone.org/plein-air.
Christine Gianas Weinheimer lives in Bozeman and has been writing about Yellowstone for 17 years.