Mt. Lebanon again gets art out 'en plein air'
By Matthew Santoni
Published: Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Organizers of Mt. Lebanon's annual “Plein Air” painting festival are aiming for a bigger and broader event as it begins its second year this week.
A panel of local and national artists are invited to come to Mt. Lebanon and paint “en plein air,” a French expression meaning to paint outdoors. Artists will paint landscapes and scenes of the town during the weeklong festival.
This year, the festival included more events and an extra day — Monday — on which artists headed into parts of Pittsburgh to paint scenes. The idea was to broaden the festival's appeal and sell more paintings to benefit public art in Mt. Lebanon, said Eric Milliron, the festival's “concierge” and Mt. Lebanon's economic development officer.
“Mt. Lebanon has a lot of great things to paint, but we also wanted to capture things in a more regional context,” Milliron said. “In order to appeal to a broader audience, we want to have more images everyone would recognize.”
The 24 professional artists participating in the festival painted on Mt. Washington and in the Strip District on Monday, and some climbed on Tuesday to the roof of Mt. Lebanon's North Garage to paint from one of the town's highest vistas.
The festival once again is happening during the same week as “Art in the Park,” the annual arts and crafts fundraiser for the Mt. Lebanon Police Department and Mt. Lebanon Sunrise Rotary Club.
Art in the Park — which has been redubbed “Art in the Park(ing Lot)” for the past two years because of its construction-related relocation from the main park — will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday in the municipal parking lot off Academy Avenue.
Local schools have contributed to the cause, with each of Mt. Lebanon's seven elementary schools painting an “art kite” in the styles of famous artists. The pieces will be placed in the municipal building's tall art-deco atrium.
Profits from last year's festival helped buy a hanging system for art in the building's lobby, Art from the district's high school students is on display.
“The focus of this event is really community involvement,” said artist and organizer David Csont, who was painting the Caruso Brothers Barber Shop on Bower Hill Road on Tuesday afternoon.
“We have the municipality and school district both as sponsors.”
Community members will get to try plein-air painting on Saturday, with a children's “paint-out” event at the municipal library from 10 a.m. to noon and an adult “paint-out” from noon to 2 p.m. in the Uptown business district. Adults, who should bring their own art supplies, will compete for a $500 prize for the best painting.
After painting throughout the community during the week, the artists will choose their two best paintings for a judged competition in which they could win a $3,000 prize. Last year's winner, Ellen Gavin of Millvale, N.J., won with her painting of Washington Road traffic blurred by morning rain and fog.
There will be a cocktail party on Friday night, where attendees can preview pieces in the competition and get the first chance to purchase them.
The $125 ticket to that event includes a $50 credit toward a painting. Everything that is unclaimed at the end of the night will be left on display and available for purchase on Saturday and Sunday.
In addition to the painting events and a block party on Saturday, other events such as films and painting demonstrations are scheduled. For details, visit pleinairmtl.com and facebook.com/ArtInTheParkMtLebanonPa.
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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