When I first learned of Mt. Lebanon Partnership’s plans for Plein Air Mt. Lebanon, which debuted last year, I was skeptical. There was plenty of enthusiasm on the part of David Csont, the event chair and a plein air painter himself, and his devotees. But after seeing a video of the huge Easton, Maryland, festival on which ours was to be based, pulling off such an event seemed overwhelming, even if it were possible to recruit enough volunteers.
As someone who has coordinated special events ranging from the grand opening of the Public Safety Building to the first-ever ULTRAparty to the dedication of the Veterans Memorial, I am well aware of the time, energy, imagination, arm-twisting, fund-raising and organizational skills required. I was, I think, justifiably concerned.
Happily, I was wrong. The community embraced the idea of an arts festival with a zeal I had not anticipated, and the core of volunteers that Csont, his wife, Linda, and the committee recruited never wavered in their resolve to bring a first-class festival, art show and sale and paint-off to Mt. Lebanon. For a first-year event, Plein Air was successful—meaning activities went fairly smoothly, the people who came had a ball, and no one lost money.
So where does Plein Air Mt. Lebanon (scheduled this year for the first week in October and once again dove-tailing with Rotary Art in the Park) go from here? If it’s to become an annual signature event, then it also should become a little bigger, better and more profitable each year—at least for a few years. Having worked with the Plein Air team and Commercial Districts Manager Eric Million on everything from the publicity, to the opening party for the artists, to the gala at the municipal building, I am sure this is do-able.
One thing that would give the festival a boost is if local art lovers would plan to set aside a little extra cash so they can not only view the art that captures the essence of our town but perhaps purchase a piece. I didn’t plan ahead last year, but I bought a painting anyway (I’m great at rationalizing why I should spend money I don’t have!). But how could I resist? Prior to Plein Air, I had told my husband, “If I could paint one Mt. Lebanon scene, I would paint the view of the sunset that I see from the roof of the south parking garage when I leave the municipal building each night.” And wouldn’t you know, one of the visiting artists did.
I don’t remember how I justified the expense, but I have no buyer’s remorse. The sunset hangs in our bedroom, reminding me every day of how beautiful our town is.
Hope someone paints your favorite place this year!