Michael Alten plein air invitational Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach’s famed Plein Air Invitational changed hands this year from the Laguna Art Museum to the Laguna Plein Air Painter’s Association.

Happily, only a few factors have changed in the switcheroo, and on Sunday, October 13, more than 40 of the country’s top “plein air” (meaning “painting outdoors in natural light”) painters will descend on our lovely town for the Laguna Beach Plein Air Invitational.

I love the Laguna Beach Plein Air. First, it starts with a bang with all of the artists gathering at the Montage Resort’s grounds, Treasure Island Park, for their first “Quick Draw” 2-hour painting contest. Wander the grounds between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and you will be able to watch these folks at work as they dot the upper lawns and walkways and lower beach areas. 

This year, the “Meet & Greet” with the artists takes place at the Aliso Creek Inn from 2 – 3 p.m., and a silent auction occurs immediately on the freshly-painted works. The Association has trolleys in play between the two locations, or use the beach tunnels or overpasses to cross over to the Aliso Creek Inn side.

On Monday, it’s a kids’ treat at Heisler Park as 4th graders through high schoolers are paired with a master plein air painter to create their own works of art. Wednesday, at the same location, our college students at LCAD (Laguna College of Art + Design) will be doing the same.

Throughout the week, though, I love to see our Plein Air pros at work, as they have the opportunity to choose to paint anywhere in Laguna Beach, including its hills and beaches from the Ritz Carlton through Crystal Cove. You’ll see these folks everywhere as you stop in traffic, run in for a coffee, do your usual hikes, or stroll the beach yourself. It’s such a great reminder of what this town was built around in the first place, and each of these painters is happy to discuss their work in progress.

On Saturday, Oct. 19th, the Laguna Beach Plein Air Gala and Auction of the works created through the week begins at 6 p.m., this time moved to the Aliso Creek grounds in a chic, custom structure raised on the property. A VIP reception begins at   5:00 p.m., with tray-passed hors d’oeuvres, followed by a buffet dinner catered by Chef Alessandro Pirozzi of Mare Culinary Lounge and Alessa Laguna Beach. We even have live music from the Global Beat Foundation. 

Peruse all the paintings (including the kids’ and college students – those purchases return money to the specific schools – and purchase your prize in advance of the public viewing and purchase opportunity on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

It’s a busy week, assuredly. No worries – I’ll be reminding you of this great event as it draws closer. For the time being, mark these days in your calendar as this is truly a rare treat as you witness fantastic works of art coming together right in front of your eyes.

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