This month Benicia Plein Air Gallery presents “Celebrating Benicia,” a group exhibit marking the gallery’s tenth anniversary, with each of the 13 member artists presenting a Benicia-themed en plein air painting.


The cooperative gallery has been in continuous operation since 2009 and is the only artist-managed gallery in Northern California specializing in the en plein air style of painting outdoors that began in the 1800s.


“We’ve been 10 years in this location, and this is our way of giving back to the community and letting people know how much the artists appreciate their support,” said Iris Sabre, one of the gallery’s founding members.


Judith Kunzle, also an artist member, added that many of the gallery’s regular patrons are Benicians who return regularly to support the gallery’s artists. “They really hosted us, fostered us, and motivated us, so this is a way to say thanks for the inspiration.”


To quote the gallery’s poetic announcement of this special anniversary exhibit:

“Celebrating Benicia” focuses on the beauty of Benicia, with its richly diverse fabric of historic townscapes and sparkling waterfront scenes…

…Locals will recognize their favorite spots, and visitors will be treated to an artistic snapshot of Benicia’s many charms. … Plein air is the art of painting outdoors, working quickly and boldly to capture a fleeting moment in time. Inspired by sunlight, vibrant color, and luminous atmosphere, the plein air artist expresses the spirit of place with a unique voice. This lively, contemporary, color-drenched style feels right at home in Benicia.


Kunzle explained that in contemporary en plein air painting the artist is interpreting the landscape, like poetry. “Each time you go outside and paint, even if you go to a place you’ve been before, it’s brand new—the landscape is alive—and that is very motivating. A lot of us are definitely contemporary, and I think this diversity is inspiring to us as artists, the fact that we all have different styles. We look at each other’s art and inspire each other.”


The exhibit runs from December 5th to the 29th, and all are invited to view the show and meet the artists at the opening reception December 7th from 3 to 5 pm. While at the gallery, visitors can see the gallery’s holiday tree decorated with original miniature paintings. Also on exhibit is a collection of new work by all 13 of the gallery’s artists, showcasing a colorful variety of themes, media, and styles.


Benicia Plein Air Gallery is located at 307 First Street. Staffed by the artists, the gallery is open Thursdays through Sundays from 11 am to 5 pm. More information is available online at