Art in the Park returns to Weir Farm
Three years ago, Weir Farm National Historic Site, Friends of Weir Farm, the Weir Farm Art Center and G&B Cultural Center teamed up for the first Art in the Park Festival, encouraging people of all ages to create art.
The inaugural event was a success, with more than 500 people spending the day at Weir Farm and presenting their best artwork at the end of the day.
“The artists have been coming to this park since 1882 when American impressionist J. Alden Weir first purchased the farm and there’s been a tradition of creating art inspired by the landscape since then,” said Kristin Lessard, park ranger and spokesperson for the festival. “From him to the other two generations of artists who lived there after him to our artists-in-residence, there is a continued tradition of art in the park.”
With the third Art in the Park Festival set for Aug. 25, people are once again being asked to visit with art supplies in hand — though watercolors, pastels and colored pencils will be available for those who don’t have their own — and spend a day among beginner, amateur and professional artists.
“It’s a really fun, exciting event,” Lessard said. “The park always offers free-to-use art supplies so we will have supplies available for painting, collage, printmaking and more. We want everyone to come in and create their own work of art.”
At the end of the day, all work will be entered into a contest with the winners getting a chance at some prizes. All entries are also eligible to be part of an exhibit at G&B Cultural Center for the month of September. Entries will be judged on the use of color, quality of work, originality, creativity, and how well the work represents Weir Farm NHS.
“We encourage artists to come and in past years, we’ve had noted en plein artists come with their easels and paint out that day,” Lessard said. “Not only is it a festival, but it’s also an art contest and we have levels including juniors, teens, adults and more advanced professional artists who submit work.”
All entries are hung up outside and judging will take place by two of Weir Farm’s art instructors and each visitor gets a vote for a special “Visitor’s Choice” award. A ceremony will follow honoring the top finishers.
But you don’t need to be a Picasso to take part. People of all skill sets are welcome and there will be help along the way for those who want it.
Demonstrations by master impressionist instructor Dmitri Wright, Weir Farm instructor Bobbi Eike Mullen and Weir Farm staff artist Whitney Hoffman will be offered throughout the day, and they will be around to offer advice and tips. The demonstrations will include sessions in en plein air impressionist painting, watercolor painting, linoleum block carving and printmaking, encaustic painting and poured acrylic painting.
Wright has been giving painting demonstrations since the inaugural event, always in the tradition of American expressionism.
“For the day, I have a site selected and I will have two paintings going at the same time, painting historic buildings or landscapes,” he said. “Weir Farm is only national park dedicated to painting so for plein air painters in the tri-state area, this is a very important venue where they can be out in nature and have the full weight and blessing of the U.S. government to paint.”
He takes part each year because it’s fun and he loves seeing the different people coming out to display their artistic expression.
“It’s nice to be part of something much bigger than yourself and have art celebrated,” Wright said. “Children gravitate to it quite well and it’s wonderful to see families working together on art projects.”
For Mullen’s demonstration, the subject will be a portion of the enticing Weir Farm landscape and she will be working in either a watercolor medium or a combination of watercolor and pastel.
“This event is such a positive attraction as it connects all levels of artistic creativity; from those who have just learned to hold a drawing tool or paintbrush, to the professional fine artist. There is no age or skill requirement,” she said. “All can participate and appreciate the artistic results while enjoying the unique environment. Encouragement is plentiful at this event so I predict many will come to express and discover their personal talent.”
Throughout the day, The Bandolins will play bluegrass music in the Terraced Gardens, doing three sets over the course of the six hours. Refreshments will be provided by Friends of Weir Farm on the front porch of the Weir House. There will also be a pianist playing the historic Steinway piano in the dining room of the main house.
A reception for all the artists will be held on Oct. 3 at the G&B Cultural Center.
“We want people to come and celebrate the art in the park that was created, and they can then take their work home after the reception,” Lessard said. “There’s a lot going on and something for everyone. And even if someone doesn’t want to create art, we invite them to come and enjoy and celebrate the art. Everyone who attends is helping the park continue its legacy.”
The Art in the Park Festival will be held 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 25. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/wefa.