The Plein Air Painters of El Paso is an active group and our mission statement, if we had one, would be to go out and paint! To step into, to feel, smell and be a part of what we paint. What more can one ask for as an artist.
What is Plein Air?
The term "plein air" is French and literally means "full" or "open" air which means painting on location outdoors directly from nature. Although the style can be traced back to 17th & 18th century Rome, it is more commonly associated with the French Impressionists in the mid to late 19th century. The purpose was to better understand nature through close observation and represent the landscape under the ever changing light, atmosphere and weather.
History and More
The Plein Air Painters of El Paso was officially formed in 1997. Several members had painted on location before, so they were the inspiration that started the group. The original members were Bob Adams, Mary Cook, Corinne Abeyta-Spinnler, Krystyna Robbins, Julie Ford Oliver and Chuck Gabriel. Gabriel designed the group's logo. Other early artists who painted with the group and inspired them with their talent and encouragement were Earlene Barnes and Bill Rakocy.
The group paints on Friday mornings, usually in El Paso. They have also painted outside the city, including sites in Mesilla, Las Cruces, White Sands, Dripping Springs, Ruidoso, and Hondo Iris Farm.
The group was small to begin with, but grew steadily. It now has over 20 members. As the membership increased, the opportunity for plein air exhibits followed.
In 2001, the first ever Plein Air Painters of El Paso exhibit was at the Hal Marcus Gallery, at his first small gallery at 2430 N. Mesa. The exhibit was called "The Barrio and Beyond."
Other exhibits followed, including shows at the International Museum of Art, Sunland Gallery, the Burges House, the El Paso Museum of History, Mission Trail Travel Center, the Rio Grande Theatre in Las Cruces and two shows at the Chamizal National Memorial. The first exhibit at the Chamizal was "Along the Rio Grande." The group was very honored to have this exhibit travel to the Department of Interior Gallery in Washington, DC. from 2005-2005. The second show was in 2007, titled "On the Border." For more details on past shows, go to the Past Shows page.
The group has promoted the joys of plein air painting throughout the region by painting at local events, including International Museum Day at the El Paso Museum of Art and the El Paso Museum of History, San Jacinto Plaza, Ardovino's Farmers Market, the Downtown Art & Farmers Market, and the Color Las Cruces Plein Air Festival.
The painters were fortunate to paint on the ASARCO site before the smokestack demolition. They later sponsored an exhibit, "ASARCO-End of an Era," with the Sunland Art Gallery.
Every year the group sponsors the El Paso Artists Studio Tour in the spring. For two weekends, the public can visit over two dozen artists studios to see where they work and purchase artwork.