In plein sight

Maybe it’s the back-to-school season that makes me want to fill up my fall calendar.  Or perhaps it’sLisa-Jardine the product of a long, lazy summer with very few plans. Regardless, when September comes around, I’m anxious to find stimulating and entertaining functions to put on my agenda. And when it takes place outside, even better. The Painters on Location event at The Rye Arts Center is high on my priority list for the fall.

This marks the 10th occasion that the arts center has gathered artists in the tri-state area and scattered them inside the City of Rye to paint the iconic scenes that anyone familiar with the area will appreciate. The kick-off to the Plein-Air Paint-Out and Art Auction actually begins on Sept. 16 inside the arts center itself. Each of the artists participating in the Painters on Location have already donated a completed work, which will be part of an ongoing silent auction leading up to the big day on Sept. 28. The gallery and silent auction will be open to the public, free of


“Kirby Sunset” by Keith Gunderson, an example of Rye Plein Air Painting by one of the artists who will be on location painting.

charge, from Sept. 16 to Sept. 28, Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and then on Saturday from 10 a.m. 1 p.m.

It’s a great opportunity to become familiar with the stylistic approach each artist takes to his or her work. This year’s line-up is a diverse, well-educated and extremely talented group.

Each of the artists has a unique background, from art professors and teachers, to book illustrators and textile designers, graphic artists and even several artists who work for Blue Sky Studio, the computer animation studio responsible for box office sensations such as “Ice Age” and “Horton Hears a Who.”


Painters on Location artist from a prior year’s event.

What they all have in common is their love for plein-air painting, a French expression that means “in the open air.” Taking this diversity into consideration, adding to it the multitude of locations and topping it off with the unknown weather forecast, there is sure to be a piece of art created that day that will reach a wide audience.

On the actual day of the paint-out, 46 artists will be painting on-site throughout the City of Rye at a location chosen by them. They will paint regardless of weather conditions and they will complete their work by 2 p.m. so the staff of volunteers can hang the wet masterpieces in the gallery in time for the cocktail reception, which begins at 5 p.m. The evening will begin with a tribute to an iconic Rye painter, Howard Bratches, who died this spring. The live auction will begin at 6:15 p.m. In order to attend the reception, all that is required is the purchase of a bidding paddle for $20.

For those who have never attended a live art auction, I sat down with the auctioneer for the night, Dr. Jeffrey Taylor, assistant professor of arts management at SUNY Purchase, to explain the logistics.

“The live auction is the centerpiece activity of the night. We will follow a simple auction format where each piece of art will be brought out, one at a time, and I will talk about the artist and the work they created. All of the art will start with an opening bid of $250 and we will go up in increments of $50 at first. The art will most likely go for prices that are well below market value and savvy buyers will have a great opportunity to snap up very prestigious art at dramatically low prices,” Taylor said.

When I was leaving Japan, I went on a buying frenzy, attempting to bring home every piece of art and antique that would remind me of my time abroad. I would imagine this would be a perfect souvenir buying opportunity for the Westchester expat or even for the family that is moving out of the community.

Taylor agrees.


Howard Bratches, born June 1, 1929, died May 19, 2013. Rye’s Iconic painter will be honored at the Painters on Location event. Photos courtesy Rye Arts Center


“It’s the perfect place to pick up a genuine memento of esthetic value,” he said.

I asked Taylor about the chall­enges that the artists  will face during the Painters on Location.

“Each artist will have less than one full day to complete their work. Usually, an artist will do a lot of tweaking until they say something is finished. They won’t have that luxury on the 28th. And most artists today use visual aids and devices to paint, which they won’t have access to during the event. They will need to channel their inner virtuoso.”

Helen Gates, the executive director of the Rye Arts Center, is very excited about this year’s Painters on Location.

“Rye is a plein air painter’s dream. There are so many beautiful and memorable sights to capture on the canvas. Painters on Location is a pretty special opportunity for art buyers old and new,” Gates said.

To reserve your paddle ahead of time, call the Rye Arts Center at 914-967-0700.

Painters on Location
A plein air paint-out and art auction
Silent auction (Sept 16 to 28 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday)
Live auction (Sept. 28 5 p.m.)
Rye Arts Center
51 Milton Road
Rye, N.Y.


“I’m always on the lookout for a great story, an amazing restaurant, an unusual day trip or a must-see cultural event in Westchester County.”

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