City cops put down ticket books and allow plein air artists to paint

St. Augustine’s rich history of attracting plein air artists dates back centuries.  Despite that fact, the City may arrest you for creating art in public places today, even though such actions have twice been held unconstitutional in federal district court.  The beauty and allure of the nation’s oldest city overcame the illegal harassment of local artists and provided the inspiration for 70 artists from across the Southeast to come here and participate in the 3rd Annual St. Augustine Plein Air Paint Out.

Clark and Alice Alger sponsored the top awards that were presented before a capacity crowd at the Opening Reception on May 3rd.  Jeff Markowsky of Savannah, Georgia won the $1,000 Best in Show Award for his oil painting, “Ingrid at Rest,” a sun-dabbled view of a local boatyard.  The Canadian-born artist also received the PleinAir Magazine Advertising Feature, awarded by the national publication for plein air artists. 

“Saint Augustine is a truly beautiful city,” said Markowsky, who created several paintings along the San Sebastian River during the Paint Out. “I was very inspired by the early morning scenes and late evening shrimp boats at the docks.”  An art professor at Savannah College of Art & Design, Markowsky has traveled extensively throughout the U.S. painting en plein air and has received numerous awards.

Collectively, the artists produced an impressive body of work, now featured in a juried exhibition, “Where Art Meets History,” at the St. Augustine Art Association Art Center located at 22 Marine Street through May 26. 

  • Orlando-based artist Antwan Ramar took home the First Place Award for his illuminated landscape “Mosquito Massacre Marsh.”  Ray Brilli of Palm Coast, Florida, won the Second Place Award for “Taking a Break,” a portrait of a sailboat in dry-dock.  Roger Bansemer claimed the Third Place Award for “The Fatio House,” a detailed study of the historic site on Aviles Street. Bansemer is co-host of the PBS “Painting & Travel” Series.
  • Anne Kraft presented the Romanza Festivale Award to Jacksonville artist Paul Ladnier for his impressionistic oil, “Behind the Lightner,” which was painted in 2 hours during the Quick Draw and also given top honors by Mayor Tracy Upchurch, who judged the rapid painting contest.
  • The Jean Wagner Troemel Excellence Awards were presented to watercolorist Robert Leedy of Jacksonville, and Donna Biggee, from Atlanta. 
  • St. Augustine artists Susan Astleford and Martha Ferguson earned the 97Park Honorable Mention Awards.

“It was an honor to be in this beautiful and unique place in America’s story,” said Bill Suys, Signature Member of the Oil Painters of America and Portrait Society of America, who traveled from Wisconsin and judged the exhibition comprised of more than 100 stunning works of original art. “This exhibit celebrates the subject and atmosphere of St. Augustine and clearly demonstrates all of the artists’ devotion to art and the Plein Air Movement.”

The 3rd Annual St. Augustine Plein Air Paint Out was sponsored, in part, by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and many others, as well as countless volunteers.

Proceeds from the exhibit art sales will support the artists and educational programs of the St. Augustine Art Association, a non-profit art organization celebrating its 95th Anniversary season.


The exhibit is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, noon to 4:00 p.m. and Sundays 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Admission is free and docent-led tours are offered daily. To learn more about the Art Association and the Plein Air Paint Out juried exhibit, call (904) 824-2310 or visit www.staaa.org/pleinair.

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