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ART BEAT: Suwanee hosts Plein Air Event this weekend

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Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Vickie Johnson paints a historic home along Stonecypher Road in Olde Town Suwanee on Friday afternoon as part of the Suwanee Plein Air Event.

This weekend looks to be a beautiful one in the city of Suwanee and local artists will be taking advantage of the sunshine and spring weather.

The second annual Spring Plein Air Event, sponsored by the North Gwinnett Arts Association, will take place in the environs of this beautiful area on Saturday and Sunday. Artists capture the area's beauty with brushes, pastels, cameras and more.

"Plein Air" is a French expression for "painting in the open air," and artists will work directly from what they are seeing, quickly and with time constraints. Unlike the works that take days, weeks or months to perfect, the artwork produced in this festival will have an immediate and fresh quality due to the method by which it is created.

Painters, photographers and mixed media artists will find locations for inspiration all around Suwanee, but mostly in its public parks. The goal is to capture scenes as quickly as possible before the movements of the sun and clouds alter the lighting. Visitors can watch these artists at work, but don't be surprised if not everyone is chatty. Some artists enjoy talking about their work, but some are wrapped in their own creative world.

"The NGAA Plein Air Event has been such a great experience for the artists involved as well as for the public at large -- artists have benefited from fresh air, beautiful scenes to paint and exposure, while the community has benefited from education, culture and beautiful artwork," NGAA President Vickie Johnson said."It's a win-win situation."

Some favorites who will again be involved are Victor Kennedy, Anita Stewart and Johnson herself, who was last event's first-place winner.

"These Plein Air events that we host in the spring and fall are part of our mission to provide artists with an outlet for creativity while educating those around us about what goes into creating a work of art," Johnson said. "We typically scholarship a couple of folks each event so that they can use the amazing gifts they possess to get out there and create -- we laugh in the face of difficult economic times. It's all about creating something that makes others feel good."

The event will be ongoing from approximately 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday, and from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Sunday. Judges will begin reviewing the works at 4 p.m. The awards ceremony will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. and is open to the public at Ippolito's, an event sponsor. Owner Dick Cunningham has become a member of the NGAA and has opened his doors for this event.

There will be prizes for first, second and third place and a People's Choice award. The artwork is also for sale.

For more information about this event, contact the NGAA and Plein Air Event contact Carol Van Dyck at 770-614-0846 or 770-337-2780.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. Email her at hcalmes@mindspring.com.