Mount Lebanon & Pittsburgh

October 5 – 12
Various times

Move over Giverny, Pittsburgh is ready for its closeup, on canvas.

Keep your eyes peeled for artists setting up their box easels to capture our region’s many dramatic vistas, scenic hillsides and bustling neighborhoods during the 3rd annual Plein Air Mt. Lebanon festival.

Running October 5th through October 12th, the first-of-its-kind event in the region is bringing 24-plus professional Plein Air painters from 10 different states to document, and be inspired by, the world-renowned topography, architecture and main streets of Mt. Lebanon and greater Pittsburgh. With a new twist on the iconic tradition of plain air painting—the French Expression which means “in the open air”—the eight-day celebration of creativity and community will feature local, regional and national artists, along with a slew of public events.

For its third edition, the unique neighborhood celebration of the arts is expanding to include new programs as well as painting locations throughout Pittsburgh. Armed with VisitPittsburgh maps, participating artists are expected to set up their portable painting supplies at the Carrie Furnace, Kennywood, Mount Washington, Market Square, the Strip District, along our riverfronts and more.

In addition to Pittsburgh and Western PA, artists for 2014 hail from Maine and Rhode Island, to Missouri and Indiana. The colorful week kicks off on Sunday, October 5th at Art-­a­‐Palooza, which will animate Mt. Lebanon’s Clearview Common from 3 to 6 p.m. Free and open to all ages, Art-­a­‐Palooza will feature a lively acoustic performance by Pittsburgh-based indie pop band, Meeting of Important People, children’s arts and crafts activities such as tie-dying and more. Be among the first in the community to meet this year’s featured Plein Air artists, and enjoy food and drink from local Uptown restaurants.

On Friday, October 10th, Plein Air will host a VIP preview party and gallery opening from 7 to 9 p.m. in Mt. Lebanon’s Municipal Building. Party-goers will have the chance to purchase paintings before the exhibition opens to the public on Saturday, October 11th. The preview gala will also feature A Taste of Mt. Lebanon, with fare and libations from local food purveyors including Maggie’s Farm Rum, Eden’s Market—A Gluten Free Emporium, Walnut Grill-Mt. Lebanon, Scoops On Beverly, Rania’s Catering, Frank B. Fuhrer Wholesale, Giant Eagle Market District and Aladdin’s Eatery Pittsburgh. Prices for the paintings typically range from $400 and $1200. Don’t forget that $50 of your $125 ticket price goes toward the purchase of a painting.

Brand new to Plein Air this year is the first annual Artists’ Market. Featuring 65 local artists, crafters and designers, the market will set up shop in Lebo’s Academy Avenue parking lot (located behind PNC Bank) on Saturday, October 11th, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sunday, October 12th, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Vendors will sell everything from beaded jewelry, glass art and ceramics, to fiber sculpture, photography and paper goods. The Artists’ Market will also include live music and local food trucks.

Additional activities planned throughout the week include painting-related demos, film screenings, discussions, hands-on children’s projects, a celebrity “paint out, and the Tour de Mt. Lebanon bike trek through scenic suburb.

Juror for the 2014’s Plein Air Mt. Lebanon is award-winning artist and illustrator Bill Vrscak. A signature member of the American Watercolor Society, Vrscak is a realist painter whose work is widely published. In addition to doing illustration and commission work, Vrscak also teaches workshops and seminars throughout the US and Canada.

Plein air painting flourished in 19th-century Europe, after paints became available in tubes and allowed artists to leave the confines of their studios and take portable supplies to outdoor locations to explore nature and their immediate surroundings. Capturing the atmosphere of the moment and a sense of place, plein air painting tests the skills and perception of artists, particularly in terms of brushstroke, color, light, and composition.

View a complete schedule of Plein Air Mt. Lebanon events. Purchase tickets to the VIP preview party.

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.