The Journal Gazette
Friday, August 20, 2021 1:00 am

Fort Wayne Artists Guild highlights plein air work with activities, exhibits

COREY MCMAKEN | The Journal Gazette

It's around 5 p.m. on a warm – OK, hot – day last week. As rush hour traffic passes by on Main Street that Thursday evening, artists are standing at easels on and near Arts Campus Fort Wayne painting what they see in front of them.

Inside the lobby of Fort Wayne Museum of Art, more painters are at work as live guitar music filters through the museum. One painter recreates what he sees out of the lobby's window, another translates Dale Chihuly's “Lily Gold Chandelier” to her canvas. Inside one of the exhibition spaces, a painter recreates a landscape that is hanging on the wall.

The event, which included an auction at the end of the evening, was part of Fort Wayne Artists Guild's Month of Plein Air, which started July 29 with the opening of “Moments: The Plein Air Movement” at Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery.

That exhibit runs through Aug. 29, and plein air activities kick into high gear next week. They include an artist talk and demonstrations at the art museum, an evening paint out with music on The Landing, an exhibition and sale at Promenade Park and the fifth annual Kekionga Plein Air Event during Taste of the Arts on Aug. 28.

This is the second year for the Month of Plein Air, part of an ongoing effort by the guild to boost the profile of what was once known as the Kekionga Plein Air Paint Out.

Sandra McGill, chair of the Kekionga event and the guild's pop-ups, says the effort grew out of a conversation with Eric Rhoads, a leader in the field of plein air painting and publisher of PleinAir Magazine. The plein air movement advocates painting outdoors.

McGill says the guild, which has been increasing its own profile including a pop-up gallery at Jefferson Pointe and painting at farmers markets, wanted to draw more national artists to its Kekionga event. Rhoads' advice was to offer more for the artists to do than a one-day paint out by getting the local museum and galleries involved and offering an exhibition.

The Artlink exhibition, which features work of Steve Puttrich, Jill Stefani Wagner and Ray Hassard, has been a rewarding collaborative opportunity, McGill says. Puttrich also will lead a workshop at Artlink on Monday and Tuesday, while Stefani Wagner and Hassard will give talks and demonstrations at the art museum on Wednesday. The three artists will judge works in the Kekionga event next weekend.

McGill admits this year was a challenge because of the pandemic, but she hopes the guild continues the expanded plein air program in years to come.

The plein air activities, especially the Kekionga event, are a great way for the community to continue supporting and uplifting local art, she says.

The guild will be set up from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 28 in the parking lot of the Barret McNagny law firm, 215 E. Berry St. Activities will include a “quick draw” by artists on the city's newly established cultural district, plein air painting with a competition and a “wet paint” sale. The group is hoping for at least 75 artists to be part of the day's activities, which include purchase awards and prizes for artists to win.

There will also be works on display and for sale from a new Community Artist Program, an initiative by the guild to boost inclusivity. Work from several dozen artists from the program is expected to be shown during the Kekionga event.

McGill encourages people who are downtown for the farmers market or Taste of the Arts to stop by at different times of the day to see different piece of art as the come in.

“It's an opportunity to get some really good paintings of Allen County,” she says.

For more information, go to

If you go

What: “Moments: The Plein Air Movement” exhibition of works by Steve Puttrich of Arlington, Illinois; Jill Stefani Wagner of Saline, Michigan; and Ray Hassard of Cincinnati; Aug. 29

When: Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday; meet the artists from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 28

Where: Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, 300 E. Main St.

What: Live plein air painting

When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday

Where: Ft. Wayne's Farmers Market, McCulloch Park, 1795 Broadway

What: Artist talks and demonstrations by Jill Stefani Wagner and Ray Hassard

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Fort Wayne Museum of Art, 311 E. Main St.

What: Nocturnal Plein Air Paint Out

When: 6 to 10 p.m. Wednesday

Where: The Landing, West Columbia Street

What: Promenade Park Exhibition and Sale

When: 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday

Where: Promenade Park pavilion, 202 W. Superior St.

On the web: A gallery of works available for purchase will be available at

What: Kekionga Plein Air Event

When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 28

Where: Barret McNagny parking lot, 215 E. Berry St.

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