Beginning this week, you’ll see them in straw hats or caps, painting on corners and on streets, from Alligator Point to Mexico Beach.
On Thursday, March 18, a talented group of well-known artists will arrive for the 16th annual Forgotten Coast en Plein Air, a resumption of the live and in-person paint-out that was interrupted last year by an entirely online event.
“We have fewer artists this year than in years past, partially because of COVID,” said Karen Weir-Jimerson, a member of the board of directors. “We’re trying to be really safe this year, which is kind of easy to do, with socially distancing with plein air because it’s outside.
“We’re doing all the same things, just doing them in a different way,” she said.
Last year, the coronavirus pandemic prompted an online event, and while it featured residencies, wet room galleries, live talks and a QuickDraw, it wasn’t quite the same as the event that has grown in popularity and prestige over 16 two-week stretches of springtimes.
One artists, Leon Holmes, who came for the event from Australia, was stranded here for a spell due to the pandemic last year.
This year, there won’t be as many as many artists who hale from faraway places, most drawn from Florida and a broader area no more than a day’s drive away.
The event open Friday, March 19 at noon EDT at the Mill Pond Pavilion at Apalachicola’s Scipio Creek, where you can join in a lunch with the artists, volunteers, visitors and greater arts community, no fee required.
That night, from 6 to 8 p.m. there’s be a presentation at The Joe at 201 Reid Avenue, by Mark Shasha, who as last year’s resident artist painted a lot of place destroyed by Hurricane Michael.
“He’s familiar with the change of coastal areas,” said Jimerson.
He’ll speak on the “The Infectious Creativity of Change,” where he will explore the connection of elements in the Forgotten Coast, such as climate change and the morphing coastal culture. Riffing on the theme that necessity is the mother of invention, he will illustrate how change sparks creativity. Through interviews of biologists, architects, seafood workers, city planners, and other integral, but seemingly unconnected, parts of the community, Shasha, from Swampscott, Massachusetts, synthesizes how creative thinking, and its infectious nature, can build stronger community infrastructure, both metaphorically and physically.
The workshops during the 10-day event by such renowned artists as Morgan Samuel Price and Nancie King Mertz are pretty much filled up, but there are waiting lists that could open up.
There’s be artists demonstrations throughout the event, everywhere from Port St. Joe to Carrabelle, so just check out the complete guide at the chambers of commerce offices to learn more.
This year’s Quickdraw and Reception will be Saturday, March 20 on St. George Island, and will feature a wide range of exceptional subject matter sure to challenge and delight all artists. Exact location is the Lighthouse area. All completed work will be displayed for judging and sales.
A special exhibition of a limited number of Quickdraw works will be selected and hung at the wet room at The Joe as a feature of the 2021 event.
The event continues with Plein Church in Apalachicola on Sunday, March 21; Student Art Day at Eastpoint’s Millender Park on Wednesday, March 24 and several other events, all leading up to the Saturday, March 27 Collectors’ Gala at The Joe.
This article originally appeared on The Apalachicola Times: Plein air painters to arrive next week