Benicia is wealthy in art and natural beauty. Perhaps that’s why the new Plein Air Paint Out event already seems destined for lasting success. Painting “en plein air,” or painting outdoors, captures scenes as they are, at one moment in time. With its water, hills, trees, plus historic industrial and small town charm, the city seems a good match for it. Organized by members of the Benicia Plein Air Gallery, the annual Paint Out serves as a celebration of that art form plus the town itself. Benicia artist and organizer Susan Street said last year’s inaugural event was a “smashing success. We were thrilled with the participation.” The second event takes place 8am-7pm, Saturday, Aug. 26, with the hopes that more art lovers will come to the public reception to enjoy the paintings and, perhaps make a purchase.

More than 60 artists (nearly 20 more than last year) will come to Benicia from all over the Bay Area to participate. Once in town, they will find a scene that captures their attention and then set up their easels and paintbrushes to capture it in one take. Artists must be ready to hang their work by 3pm for judging. A public reception follows 4-7pm at the Plein Air Gallery, located at 307 First St. Bay Area artist Randall Sexton will judge the work and Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson will present the awards. Nibbles and the chance to view paintings created that day will be offered at the gallery. The all-women, four-piece Brazilian band named “Gringa” will play amid the festivities. A portion of the proceeds of art sales will go to the Arts Benicia Youth Program.

Courtesy photo

2016 Paint Out Judging

Susan Street

Mare Island Cacophany

Artist Cleo Vilette’s First Place Award-winning Painting at Benicia’s 2016 Plein Air Paint Out Event

Courtesy photo

2016 Paint Out Winner, by Cleo Vilette

In planning the second Paint Out, special effort has gone towards working with local businesses so they can get in on the energy of all the artists in town. Each participating artist will receive packets with coupons from local restaurants, cafes, retail stores and other shops allowing percentages off a meal, free coffee and other incentives. Word is also going out to the public that if you have a special place in your heart for art and for Benicia you are invited to the late afternoon party at the gallery. “What we want to improve on is letting the public know that the party is for them,” Street said. For more information, go to