This November the St. Johns Cultural Council, in conjunction with the Plein Air Strategic Taskforce, is launching St. Johns Plein Air, a program that shares with artists a large selection of places available in the City of St. Augustine and St. Johns County to paint and create art in plein air, or outdoors in the open air.
“St. Augustine and St. Johns County are ideal locations for artistic inspiration to set up and create, and we want to share the many locations this is possible with artists,” said Andy Witt, executive director of the St. Johns Cultural Council. “Plus, the fall weather we are experiencing makes it a perfect time to get outdoors, enjoy the weather and create art.”
St. Johns Plein Air is an informational program that was developed after the successful Find Your Park Plein Air event. This was a nine-day event in collaboration with the National Park Service’s Centennial where more than 75 artists set up and painted at the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument and Fort Matanzas National Monument.
“The success of the event made us want to take it a step further and share with artists where they can paint throughout St. Johns County in plein air 365 days of the year instead of just nine days,” said Witt.
Phase one of St. Johns Plein Air is launching this month and comprises of the creation of a map that shows 18 suggested plein air locations throughout St. Augustine and St. Johns County. The locations include national parks such as the Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas, state parks such as Anastasia State Park and Fort Mose Historic State Park, St. Johns County parks such as Vilano Beach Oceanfront Park and Alpine Groves Park, and City of St. Augustine parks such as Lighthouse Park and Hayling Park.
“The list of suggested plein air locations is just a start and will continue to grow as the program evolves,” said Witt.
For phase two of St. Johns Plein Air, the program’s website will be enhanced. The goal is to incorporate 360-degree photos of the suggested locations so artists can see the many opportunities available at each location. For example, one location is the Lightner Museum front courtyard green. That location provides a view of not only the Lightner Museum, but also Flagler College, Casa Monica Hotel and a St. Augustine streetscape.
Phase one of the St. Johns Plein Air project launch was delayed due to Hurricane Matthew. Since hurricane recovery is still in progress throughout St. Johns County, organizers of the project recommend that artists contact the suggested locations before visiting to be aware of any closures or partial closures at that location.
As part of the program, guidelines are provided to artists. The guidelines remind artists to follow all rules outlined by each location, set up only in public-designated spaces and not to sell artwork onsite. The guidelines also suggest for artists to set up in green spaces instead of sidewalks. In instances where artists are set up on sidewalks, a 48-inch clearance is required to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Also, plein air painting is not allowed inside the Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas as well as select locations within the City of St. Augustine. Finally, if an artist would like to paint at a location not designated, then it is suggested for the artist to contact the property owner for approval before setting up.
The Plein Air Strategic Taskforce is led by Joel Bagnal of Joel Bagnal Goldsmith and includes Mary Hubley of Hubley Gallery, Kathe O’Donnelly of the St. Johns Cultural Council, Brad Taylor Hicks of the Ximenez-Fatio House Museum, and Elyse Brady of the St. Augustine Art Association.
“As with every piece of art, this program is a work in progress,” said Witt. “Our goal is to share with the artist community that St. Augustine and St. Johns County is the premier place for plein air painting.”
For more information about St. Johns Plein Air, call 904-808-7330 or visit www.stjohnspleinair.com.
About the St. Johns Cultural Council
The mission of the St. Johns Cultural Council, www.stjohnsculture.com, is to promote St. Johns County as a premiere arts destination where the lives of both residents and visitors are enriched through arts and culture. The St. Johns Cultural Council was established 15 years ago and proudly provides support for youth arts programs, artists and arts organizations, and professional development workshops.