Pioneering Harvey Dunn plein air event a success

Courtesy photo: Joy Halling from Watertown won the People’s Choice Award for the 12th annual Plein Air event, held virtually this year, with her watercolor titled "Lily Town Hall." Included is the painting and a picture of Joy in front of the actual building still standing in Lily, South Dakota.

Paintings may be viewed online

DE SMET – The 12th annual De Smet Plein Air “Paint Out,” and the first virtual plein air event, was a tremendous success. The event was sponsored by the Harvey Dunn Society and held Aug. 7-9. Serving as pioneers in Plein Air experiences and paving the way for the future, this virtual event was the first statewide South Dakota event inviting artists from across the nation to paint their current landscapes, to download them for viewing plus purchase and to participate in workshops, demonstrations and chat Zoom meetings for three days.

Due to the COVID-19 concerns, the Harvey Dunn Society board of directors, who were determined to keep Harvey Dunn’s artwork and this longest running Plein Air event in South Dakota alive, conducted it virtually this year. The Brookings Arts Council and South Dakota Art Museum joined as sponsors and were vital in making this innovative event possible.

Forty-four artists and Plein Air enthusiasts from several states, including Maryland and Texas, registered for the “Painting on the Prairie” event, with more than 60 paintings submitted for review and for sale on the Brookings Arts Council website. Charla Herbert from Nebraska won the Artist’s Choice Award and $200 in prize money.

Voted the favorite artist for the People’s Choice Award and winning $200 was Joy Halling, Watertown. She submitted three paintings, including her painting of the “Lily Town Hall.”

“I’m thankful to the Harvey Dunn Society for this enjoyable and challenging experience,” said Halling, after her win was announced through a Zoom call with participants and the event’s organizers.  “I was intrigued by the old buildings in Lily, South Dakota, that still stand as proud as can be, and  I’m honored to receive the People’s Choice Award for my paintings.”

Steve Randall, a Sioux Falls artist, Harvey Dunn Society board director and organizer of the virtual event, shared his appreciation of those who helped put on the event and the experience it offered.

“I enjoyed the chance to get out and paint with friends and other artists, even if we were separated by some distance,” he said. “We could still share our experience virtually on social media, with technical help from some great organizations like the De Smet Development Corporation, Brookings Arts Council and South Dakota Art Museum. I hope that some parts of this technology can be included in future De Smet Plein Air Painting events when we can all be together again in De Smet.”

The artists’ paintings are for sale for two weeks at under the Harvey Dunn Plein Air Store tab. A full gallery of paintings and instructional videos can be seen on the Harvey Dunn Society Facebook page. The Harvey Dunn Society hosts their Plein Air event in De Smet the second weekend in August, and the 2021 date is set for Aug. 12-15. The event has grown each year and typically brings approximately 80 artists to De Smet and the surrounding area.


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