plein air returns

As we get closer to the Plein Air Mt. Lebanon outdoor arts festival September 30 through October 6, organizers are revealing exciting details of the expansion of last year’s successful event.

Plein Air festivals feature a group of expert painters who have a period of days to go outside and paint what they see, using available light and enduring the current weather to create a masterpiece. Even the finishing of the piece must be done mostly outside and completely within the time period of the festival. At the end, artwork is juried and the winner gets a cash prize.

Plein Air Mt. Lebanon, sponsored by the Mt. Lebanon Partnership, is organized by Plein Air painter David Csont, Linda Csont, Dan Pipitone, Erin Hart and Steven and Wendy Denenberg, owners of Create A Frame/Handworks Gallery. Commercial Districts Manager Erice Milliron is staff liaison. The week culminates in a community gala and public art sale, when guests may purchase the artwork to take home. An installation in the municipal building also will showcase the paintings.

The juror for the Professional Artist Exhibition will be internationally known watercolorist, author and lecturer Frank Webb. The winning artist will be announced and feted at the exhibition and gala on Friday, October 4, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the municipal building. Tickets will be for sale online at

The Uptown Paint Out is Saturday, October 5, from noon to 2 p.m. on Washington Road.You can register to participate in the event alongside professionals, as you try your hand at plein air painting in the central business district. Juror Mark Bender, a nationally known illustrator and educator at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, will judge that competition, where the winner will take home $500. A children’s paint out for painters ages 10 and younger will be at the library with the winner snagging $150.

A signature feature of this year’s festival will be a collaboration with the school district involving more than 2,000 elementary school students to create a large-scale art installation for the rotunda of the municipal building.

Film will be part of the week, as the Denis Theatre hosts Elaine Wertheim’s “Art of Independent Film” lecture and the library presents a mini-film series on movies with an art theme.

The week will also include many educational opportunities, including “Open Studio” lectures in the evenings to learn about types of art, such as: children’s book illustration, watercolor, oil, pastel, ceramics, glass beads and silver wire jewelry.

Proceeds from the many event activities will benefit the Mt. Lebanon Arts Initiative, which contributes to the education and growth of art here. So far, the fund has donated a two-year subscription to Plein Air Magazine and two books on plein air painting to the Mt. Lebanon Library. Funds also are pledged toward a new gallery hanging system for the municipal building.

Organizers will need many volunteers throughout the course of the week. If you would like to volunteer, see information online at

Look for a complete event schedule in the September issue of mtl.