New Paltz-based artist Kevin Cook is a contemporary practitioner of the Hudson River School of painting, and like his predecessors, he often works en plein air (“in the open air”) in the preliminary stages of a painting, to be refined later in the studio. Now Cook has invited 15 other contemporary regional artists who also work en plein air to participate in “Artists on the Street: A Plein Air Event” on Historic Huguenot Street (HHS) in New Paltz on Saturday, August 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., followed by a reception from 4 to 5 p.m. in the DuBois Fort Visitor Center at 81 Huguenot Street.
Local art-lovers will get the chance to watch talented professional artists at work, creating paintings inspired by the historic area. The artists will work at different locations all around Huguenot Street, with a map available at the Visitor Center detailing their bios and where they can be found painting.
The historic stone houses will be open for touring, and visitors can view the LeFevre House Portrait Gallery. There’ll be a kids’ activity area where they can sit down to draw and paint, and refreshments will be available for purchase throughout the day.
As an organizer of the event, Cook won’t be participating as a painter, but he will host an open studio that day so that visitors can see works-in-progress and check out what it’s like inside an artist’s space. His location is on the map.
“I handpicked all of the artists,” says Cook. “They’ve all done this kind of thing before, and are very good at being able to work and talk to the public at the same time.” [Not as easy to do as one might think.] “I picked people that are especially good at working plein air from nature and who have a unique voice in landscape. Most of them are mid-career artists who have won a lot of awards.”
Participating artists are Rick Greener, Rose Gennaro, Marsha Massih, John Varriano, Ray Curran, Mira Fink, Jim Cramer, Marlene Wiedenbaum, Lynne Friedman, Sue DeSanna, Robin Guthridge, Gayle Clark Fedigan, Sandy Brandman, Janet Gunderson and Keith Gunderson. The artists will attend the reception at the Visitor Center from 4 to 5 p.m. afterward, most with one or two completed pieces that they’ll bring along to exhibit, along with whatever they managed to complete on-site that day, says Cook.
The event is modeled on one in Tarrytown at Sunnyside, the Washington Irving estate that Cook used to participate in and that was quite popular in its time. This is the inaugural plein air event in New Paltz, but if the turnout is good, perhaps it’ll become an annual affair.
“Artists on the Street” is free and open to the public. Saturday guided tours of HHS historic homes set out at 10 and 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 and 3 p.m. The cost is $16 for adults; $15 for senior citizens, students, military and AAA members; $40 for families; and $10 for ages 10 to 13. House tours are free for HHS members, enlisted military personnel and their families and children under 10 years old.
“It’s a great opportunity to make a day of it,” Cook says. “People can take tours of the stone houses and spend all day, seeing how the artists work over the period of several hours, and wander back and forth to see how they’re progressing. There’s a picnic area, so people can bring a blanket and sit outside. It’s really a family-outing sort of day.”
Artists on the Street: A Plein Air Event, Saturday, August 10, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., reception 4-5 p.m., free, stone house tours $10/$15/$16, Visitor Center, Historic Huguenot Street, 81 Huguenot Street (between North Front Street and Broadhead Avenue), New Paltz; (845) 255-1889, www.huguenotstreet.org.