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Plein Air artists invited to converge on seven farms around Easton
By BRUCE HOTCHKISS
(July 21, 2015) The cultural struggle of farmers, and to a larger extent the rural community, to educate a vast army of consumers about commercial agricultural found itself with a role, as unlikely as that may seem, in the 2015 edition of Easton’s famed Plein Air competition.
The week-long event attracts artists/painters from across the country and indeed the world, to paint scenes from the outdoors, no matter the weather, and then submit them for jurying and prizes.
Plein Air in French means “in the open air.”
Paintings may be submitted for recognition in several categories. This year, for the first time, “Life on the Farm” provided not only some lively competition but a Plein Air celebration as well.
Artists began arriving in town – and some cases painting — over the weekend of July 11 and 12. On Monday, July 13, many dispatched to the farm country around Easton, painted all day, and in the evening were welcomed at a reception hosted by the new Triple Creek Winery at nearby Cordova.
Seven farms, including Triple Creek, had issued open invitations to painters to visit their farmers and set up their easels .
The reception at Triple Creek was designed to showcase the day’s artwork — those paintings that had been completed — and to allow the artists and the farmers to get to know each other.
The entries in the “Life on the Farm” division were to be juried later in the week and prizes awarded on Friday as the overall Plein Air competition — and celebration — came to a close.
An estimated 100-plus artists and farmers and other guests gathered at Triple Creek for a country buffet, live music, and of course some wine, as the evening settled in.
Jessica Rogers, director of operations for the Avalon Foundation who, along with Cassandra VanHooser, Talbot County’s director of tourism, had conceived of the notion of focusing a segment of the Plein Air effort on the farm community surrounding Easton, said an artist searching for a subject, is attracted by what he or she sees.
“They undertand what they are painting, and that is reflected in the work,” Rogers said.
In turn, that understanding is imparted to someone viewing the work, a unique avenue for communicating “Life on the Farm” to those who have never experienced it.
In advance of their journey into the countrside, each participating artist was supplied with a list of the farns to which they were invited, what the farm offered and how to get there.
Here’s a sampling.
• Chapel’s Country Creamery: 10380 Chapel Road, Easton: Working dairy farm with cows in the pasture and baby calves in pens. Farm also has three horses and some free-range chickens.
• Triple Creek Winery: 11138 Three Bridge Branch Road, Cordova: The winery features eight acres of vines plus a one-acre greenhouse where English cucumbers are grown. Painters are welcome to go inside the greenhouse. In addition, there are approximately 30 head of red and black Angus cattle at a property just down the road.
• Councell Farm: 11773 Old Skipton Road, Cordova: The Councell family is best known for the vegetables they grow and sell at their farmstand on Route 50. This particular farm features 165 acres, including the red barn that serves as the actual farmstand. Soybeans, sweet corn, pumpkins, and mums are growing in these fields now.
• Nagel Farms: 11761 Cordova Road, Cordova: or 14209 Old Wye Mills Road, Wye Mills: The Cordova property features a massive grain storage facility with numerous grain bins, elevators, and truck-sized scales.
• Hutchison Brothers: 11008 Lewistown Road, Cordova: The home farm is located at 11008 Lewistown Road. This 80-acre property features a number of different buildings and a vast irrigation system. There is another 200-acre farm at 10171 Lewistown Road that also has a large irrigation system, as well as grain bins and a grain elevator at the center of the property.
• Gannon Farms: 9706 Longwoods Road, Easton: The home farm features a large farmhouse and multiple barns and outbuildings. There are solar panels, grain bins, and large machinery.
• Anderton Farm: 5190 Anderton Road, Oxford: Anderton Farm is a working waterfront farm just outside Oxford. There are ample barns and sheds, and the sunflowers should be in full bloom. Some sweet corn is growing in the fields. There are water views.