Plein Air Festival Schedule of Events

Artist Applications for the 2016 Plein Air Festival are now closed



The third annual Seneca Lake Plein Air Festival takes place from Wednesday, September 28 to Sunday, October 2, 2016. The event, which benefits The Smith Center for the Arts, will showcase the northern end of Seneca Lake in the beautiful Finger Lakes Region. This is a juried art competition with cash prizes. This year’s judge will be Wendy Harris from Syracuse, NY. Prize winners will be announced at a ticketed Preview Party, Exhibit, and Sale on Saturday, October 1 at the Smith Opera House. The winning artwork will be used in marketing the 2017 Festival. This year’s promotional material features the winning 2015 painting, “South on Bentley,” by Jill Stefani Wagner.

All competition entries will be offered for sale at the artist’s price. Artists will receive 70% of the sale price of their artwork, with the remaining 30% going directly to support arts programming through The Smith Center for the Arts. All artists are expected for be present for both the Preview Party on October 1 and the Public Art Exhibition and Sale on October 2. We hope you will join us in creating a memorable and fun-filled experience for both artists and art-enthusiasts alike.


The Smith Center for the Arts is the premier venue for the arts in the Finger Lakes Region. The organization owns and operates the Smith Opera House offering a dynamic calendar of movies, concerts, educational programming, and arts advocacy projects. Its mission is to create a vibrant culture for the arts in the Finger Lakes. We deeply appreciate the creative vision and hard work of Billsboro Winery owners, Kim and Vinny Aliperti, for bringing plein air painting to the Finger Lakes in 2007. We are very grateful for their continued support and involvement.


By entering the 2016 Seneca Lake Plein Air Festival the artist agrees to be bound by all the terms outlined herein. The artist agrees to participate in the competition, Preview Party, Exhibit and Sale, and Public Exhibition. The artist agrees to price their work commensurate with normal pricing structure; a 30% commission will be retained by The Smith Center for the Arts. Framed sizes will be no larger than 36 inches in any dimension. All paintings must be framed and wired for hanging.

All sales will be handled by The Smith Center for the Arts. All artwork from the Festival and Paint-Off must be for sale. Images of work entered into the competition as well as “action” photographs taken during the Festival may be used by The Smith Center for the Arts for publicity purposes. The Billsboro Winery Tasting Room Gallery will feature Seneca Lake Plein Air artists until the end of November 2016. Artists may pick up their work any time after November 30 up until December 31, 2016.


The Smith Center for the Arts is not responsible for loss or damage to any artwork, no matter what the cause. By submitting artwork to this Festival, the artist is deemed to have accepted the conditions outlined herein. Artists may wish to provide their own insurance coverage.

9:00 AM – Registration and Painting Begins: Smith Opera House

Artists can register for the Festival and have their canvases stamped at the Smith Opera House. They can begin painting “en plein air” in sites around the east and west sides of Seneca Lake, generally taking in the northern part of the lake’s hillsides, towns, parks, wineries, vineyards, fields, farms, marinas, urban sites, etc. A “places to paint” guide will be provided. Artists will complete W-9 forms, as supplied by the Smith.

Thanks to our friends at the Finger Lakes Lounge, just down the street from the Smith at the corner of Linden and Seneca Streets, artists wearing their festival lanyards will receive $2 discount on any specialty waffle or sandwich.

6:00 PM – Welcome Reception for the Artists and homestay hosts, including a Demonstration by Artist George Van Hook: Smith Opera House

Artists are expected to attend a welcome wine and hors d’oeuvres reception and to register for the Festival if they have not done so earlier in the day. The rules of the competition will be reviewed and canvases can be stamped. Renowned artist, George Van Hook, will do a painting demonstration for the participating artists. We expect to start the demonstration by 6:45 pm.

7:00 AM – Breakfast at the Smith Opera House

A continental breakfast will be available until 9 am. Committee members will be available to help with driving directions, distances, etc.

Artists paint at locations of their choice within the Festival guidelines. The public is invited to observe artists throughout the day. Artists can store paintings at the Smith Opera House if dropped off before 5:00 pm.

10:00 AM – NOON Paint-Off: Lehigh Gardens Neighborhood

Interested artists will meet at 9:30 AM at Club 86, 86 Avenue E in Geneva, off Genesee St., where the rules and boundaries of the competition will be reviewed. Artists have two hours to complete a painting within the Paint-Off boundaries. A neighborhood map will be included in artists’ welcome packets. The paintings will be displayed at the Smith Opera House, framed and ready for judging at 12:30 pm. Artwork must be in place for judging by 12:30 pm. The Paint-Off judge is Michael Tinkler, Professor of Art History at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. The winner will be announced at 1 PM.

During the Paint-Off, bathroom facilities will be offered by Club 86, 86 Avenue E, and the Cracker Factory, 35 Lehigh Street.

Lunch for the artists will be provided at the Smith by our friends from Club 86.

1:00 PM – 3:00 PM: Hanging of Artwork at the Smith Opera House

Artists will frame and hang three works of art completed during the Festival. All artwork must be hung by 3:30pm to be eligible for judging. In general, as a working guideline, each artist will have a 4’ by 4’ hanging space.

3:30 PM – Juried Competition

This year’s judge is Wendy Harris.

5:00 – 7:30 pm: Preview Party, Exhibit, and Sale at the Smith Opera House (Ticketed Event)

Guests and artists will enjoy live jazz, wine and light appetizers at this ticketed event for the public. If a work of art sells, it can be replaced by a painting completed during the Festival. If possible, we hope that the prize-winning paintings remain on display through Sunday.

NOON – 3:00 PM: Public Exhibition and Sale at the Smith Opera House

The public is invited free of charge to view all artists’ framed works from the Festival, including those not submitted for judging. Works will be displayed in the spaces provided for the Saturday night exhibit and sale. Should space allow, we may be able to accommodate more than three paintings for each artist on Sunday. Artists are expected to be present for the public art sale. It is a wonderful opportunity for the community to meet and talk with artists about their work.

October 9 – November 30

Artists may leave one or two paintings with title/pricing tags for display in Billsboro Winery’s Tasting Room Gallery from October 8 – November 30, 2016. Thirty percent of the sale price will benefit The Smith Center for the Arts.


We thank Phelps Sungas, Inc.; Interstate; Hobart and William Smith Colleges; Stomping Grounds; Smith Center for the Arts; Anne and Jerry Buckley; Dave Bunnell; Catharine Foster Hopkins Art Club; Aliceann and Mitch Wilber; Billsboro Winery; Chuck and Joanne Wisor; Joyce and Tom Toher; Canandaigua National Bank; Club 86; Jan Regan Photography; Sally Webster; Finger Lakes Lounge; White Springs Winery; Anthony Road Winery; Swedish Hill Winery; Pedulla’s Wine and Liquor; Halex Awards, Inc.