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Plein Air Artist Festival Launch Event In La Crescent, MN Wetlands

Kitchen Icons

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The vista from Kitchen Icons location with emergent wetlands in South La Crescent, MN and Houston County bluffs in the background.

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Jon Erickson, 2018 Award Winner

Plein air painting is the experience of painting in nature without the four walls of a studio. The 2019 Seventh Annual Plein Air Painting Between the Bluffs festival and competition includes over 30 regional artists who compete for best original landscape art--all painted outdoors and between the bluffs of the Coulee Region. More details are at

“We are interested in challenging regional artists with producing fine art within the confines of a two week period. Each artist must paint their work outdoors within a 15 mile radius of downtown La Crosse,” explained Mike Martino, local artist and one of the organizers of the event. “This year our first painting venue will highlight the wetlands in the skunk hollow region of the south La Crescent bluffs. Part of our goal is to capture pristine locations in nature through art, highlighting the beauty of the region and the importance of protecting these areas.”

Note: The media attended a private kick-off event at Kitchen Icons location in the skunk hollow wetlands on Tuesday Sept. 10th.

The festival includes these public events:

Artists “Quick Paint “Competition Saturday Sept. 14. The public is welcome to observe the artists painting at the north end of Riverside Park, La Crosse at the International Gardens. Artists will compete to produce their work of art in a two hour window. Event begins at 10 a.m. and judging will be at noon with prizes awarded at 12:30 p.m. A delegation of Chinese professional artists will be attending the event and painting the beautiful scenery in what will be an unprecedented cultural collaboration in the love of art.

The Gallery Reception and Art Sale is the main event of the Plein Air Festival on Friday September 20 from 6pm to 9pm at Studio Gallery,1311 Market Street, La Crosse. Admission is free and the paintings from the competing artists will be on display. All of the paintings will be original works of art created in the previous two week period within a 15 mile radius of Downtown La Crosse. Featured locations include La Crescent's skunk hollow wetlands, La Crosse city scapes, farmhouses, the Mississippi river, secluded coulees and other locations chosen by the artists. This is a rare opportunity to view beautiful bluffland scenery in an artist’s rendition. The public can meet the artists and their work is also for sale . The winning paintings will be announced by nationally-known artist and judge Richard Abraham.(

Note: The 18 professional Chinese artists will also be in attendance at the Sept. 20th. show. They are having a companion show/sale event at the Pump House in La Crosse the same night from 5-7 p.m. There may also be a Trolley running between the two events.

Between the Bluffs Plein Air Festival is supported by the La Crosse Arts Initiative, Studio Gallery and other local organizations and individuals. Full list is available on the event website below.

Last year’s winners and more information about the festival is available here: