Plein Air Artists To Pack Havana’s Downtown

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    The effort to return the tiny North Florida town of Havana to a vibrant artistic community continues. Tom Flanigan reports the town will be the site of an interactive art festival in less than two weeks.

    The event announcement came from Havana Main Street Executive Director Ann Kozeliski.

    “It’s called ‘Painting in the Shade’ and it’s taking place May 13 through May 15 and it’s open to all artists. If you’ve never painted plein air, now’s your chance to have that opportunity to see what you can do.”

    So what is “plein air painting?” It actually dates from the 19th Century when a lot of artists – particularly the French impressionists – began working outdoors so they could better capture the true spirit of the landscapes they were painting.

    “It’s such a wonderful surprise when you walk up upon an artist who’s there with their easel and they’re totally engrossed in what they’re doing. And you’re watching the transformation of a building you see every day into this beautiful impressionistic form. It’s exhilarating and everybody feeds off of each other.”

    Kozeliski said there will be some star power giving the event some extra pizzazz.

    “Our guest artist is Tallahassee’s own Natalia Andreeva who is internationally known for her plein air work.”

    Visitors are invited to wander through the downtown area to watch Andreeva and the other artists at work.

    “We are going to be spread out around the historic community and painting. Thursday and Friday they’ll paint all day, starting and ending when they want. There will be a lunch-hour artists’ talk at a local restaurant up there.”

    Kozeliski said displaying the resulting art work can present a bit of a challenge.

    “The majority of work is done in oil and we know oil paint does not dry quickly. So the paint is still wet when the art is done. The artists are being invited to bring 3 previously painted works and then they’re being tasked with painting 1 piece a day and they’ve got 2 and a half days to paint.”

    Which leads up to the showing.

    “Then on Friday there will be a gallery night in what was previously known as the ‘Paint Dog Gallery.’ It’s now the ‘Ah-Ha Gallery’ and that’s where our group, Artists Helping Artists, has its monthly pop-up shows.”

    For more details, Kozaleski suggests:

    “They go to: havanamainstreet.com/events page. Or they can give me a call on the Havana Main Street phone at: 850-755-2999 and we have extended our deadline for participation until May 8.”

    So if you are an artist who’s always wanted to try your hand at creating in the great outdoors, here’s your chance.

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    This story originally appeared on WFSU News.