Collection of Ag-Related Art to Hang at Academy Art Museum
Plein Air Easton’s partnership with the Eastern Shore agriculture community has borne fruit.
For years, the artists of Plein Air Easton captured the beauty of the Eastern Shore agriculture industry on canvas. Now, a collection of those paintings will be on display at locations around the region, including the Academy Art Museum in downtown Easton.
In 2015, Plein Air Easton began to work with local farm groups. The purpose was three-fold — to open a dialog between farmers and painters, to give competition artists increased access to local farms, and to draw attention to the importance of agriculture to Talbot County and the Eastern Shore.
The Tidewater Farm Club and the Talbot County Farm Bureau joined forces to sponsor an annual $1,500 “Life on the Farm” award for the best agriculturally themed painting, as well as a farm-to-table dinner for artists and local farm families. This partnership has yielded dozens of rich, colorful paintings that depict some of the region’s most picturesque and productive farms and scenes.
Seeing the success of this partnership, local philanthropists Bruce Wiltsie and Bill Davenport stepped forward in 2018 to fund a permanent collection of paintings that celebrate both the economic power of agriculture and the awe-inspiring beauty of the region’s farms and working open space. They pledged $10,000 over four years of the Plein Air Easton Art Festival and Competition to purchase agriculture-themed art.
“Bruce and Bill are committed to land preservation, and they are eager to see the relationship between Plein Air Easton and local farm families continue to grow,” says Al Bond, executive director of the Avalon Foundation. “Their goal was to create a body of work that will be displayed around the state to continue to tell the agriculture story on a much broader scale.”
From its beginning, Plein Air Easton’s mission has been to tell the county’s important stories through representational art. Over the past 17 years, artists from around the world have come to Talbot County and helped document the unique and ever-changing Chesapeake region. Agriculture is an important piece of the story.
“Plein Air Easton has worked hard to tell a story about Talbot County and Maryland’s Eastern Shore through original artwork,” says Jessica Bellis, general manager of the Avalon Foundation. “It’s important for us to make a connection with and celebrate Talbot County’s rich agricultural heritage.”
The farm community has a better understanding of the artists who are drawn to the area, and artists who paint Talbot County become ambassadors for the community when they go home and share the information they learn here.
The collection funded by Wiltsie and Davenport will be completed at Plein Air Easton 2021 and will be the featured exhibit from July 15-29 at the Academy Art Museum. A reception will be held on July 21 at 4:30 p.m.
The Agriculture Plein Air Collection is the work of the Avalon Foundation, University of Maryland Extension – Talbot County, and the Talbot County Department of Economic Development and Tourism.
For more information, visit pleinaireaston.com.