Art Al Fresco: Olmsted Plein Air Invitational celebrates the landscape of Atlanta

By Anna Jones

Every year, there is an influx of professional landscape painters in Atlanta – and for good reason. The Olmsted Plein Air Invitational, “the center of the modern plein air movement,” is holding its 4th annual, week-long event April 21 – 29 in the city.

Most of the events that fall under the Olmsted Plein Air umbrella are free, with reserved tickets available online at olmstedpleinair.com. Events include a ‘Meet the Artists’ showcase on April 24, a pop-up garden stroll on April 27, an Artists’ Awards and Collectors’ Soiree on April 28, and a Paint Quick competition on April 29.

The invitational is an event in which artists from across the country are hand-selected by a committee founded in Atlanta. While the outdoor painting extravaganaza has previously centered in the city, this year artists will spread out to Georgia’s seacoast and the mountains as well. The artists are competing for the coveted Olmsted trophy as well as winning one of the largest purses in the country.

Produced by the nonprofit Olmsted Arts, the event is, according to Founder Lillian Ansley and PR Director Geri Laufer, inclusive to all – hence the fact that the majority of the invitational is open to the public.

“It doesn’t matter if you have significant means, you can experience the thrill of watching an artist paint a painting from start to finish within a couple of hours – it’s amazing,” Ansley said. “We’re documenting Atlanta’s hidden, special places. It’s a bond that we’re creating with our city.”

An example of this inclusivity is the Paint Quick competition that is open to the public. Painters can sign up on the Olmsted Plein Air website, and all artists will have two hours to complete a painting in Atlanta’s beautiful Olmsted Linear Park. There is a nonrefundable pre-registration fee of $25, with a walk-up fee of $50 cash.

Another notable event to appeal to all generations – including younger ones – is the Pop-Up Garden Party, where participants will listen to an “amazing” band, and get to partake in an all-organic meal by Chef David Sweeney. The location will be revealed only hours before the event to add a bit of fun mystery to the event.

The public will really get a chance to see the art created at the Public Art Sale at Druid Hills Golf Course on April 29 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. That same day, there will be a Petite Plein Airt Painting Exhibition and Sale of small works at Olmsted Linear Park from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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