Open air painters find inspiration on the Parkway for benefit art show

Photo by Dana Irwin

John Mac Kah painting en plein air on the Blue Ridge Parkway.jpg

John Mac Kah painting outdoors on the Blue Ridge Parkway John Mac Kah painting outdoors on the Blue Ridge Parkway
September 27, 2018

As we travel the Blue Ridge Parkway, most of us capture the awe-inspiring scenes with a camera. But if you’ve been exploring the park recently, you just might have encountered one of the many artists working en plein air, a French expression meaning “in the open air,” to capture the wonders of the mountains on canvas.

Sitting in front of small easels with brushes and paint-smeared palettes in hand, these artists leave the walls of the studio behind to experience painting amid the landscape and fresh air.  

The Saints of Paint and Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation are inviting guests on a visual adventure with the benefit art show, Of Valley & Ridge: A Scenic Journey Through the Blue Ridge Parkway, showcasing the works of Western North Carolina fine artists from October 26 to 28 at Zealandia castle in Asheville, North Carolina.

The show opens with a ticketed gala from 5 to 8 p.m., Friday, October 26, at the historical Tudor mansion, Zealandia, atop Beaucatcher Mountain. Guests will enjoy wine, beer, food, and music, and can purchase Parkway-inspired pieces by more than 20 artists. The public is invited to explore the showcase for free from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, October 27, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday, October 28.

There will be five types of artwork at the show: oils, pastels, acrylics, watercolors, and etchings. Painter Susan Kokora hopes to preserve some of the natural beauty for generations to come through her plein air paintings. “As civilization encroaches ever more on our natural world, I want my grandchildren to see some of the inspirational places that I enjoy,” she says. “When I paint outdoors, I often feel as though I reach a spiritual place that is both calming and uplifting. I want to share that experience with others.”

Proceeds from the gala and art sales from the entire weekend will support the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s work to protect, preserve, and enhance the 469-mile route.

Of Valley & Ridge
Where: Zealandia, 1 Vance Gap Road, Asheville, N.C.
When: October 26-28
Tickets: $100, Friday gala; free, Saturday & Sunday

Gala Tickets