Paintings fly off wall at CFHS ‘Plein Air Event’

For the eighth year, artists and art lovers converged on the Chadds Ford Historical Society’s (CFHS) Barn Visitors’ Center on Saturday, Feb. 6, for the "Plein Air Event" – an evening that proved challenging for some indecisive patrons.

Attendees at the Chadds Ford Historical Society's Plein Air Event mingle with the artists and discuss the paintings.

Attendees at the Chadds Ford Historical Society's 'Plein Air Event' mingle with the artists and discuss the paintings, many of which had been finished hours earlier.

Earlier in the day, 22 artists set up their palettes at area sites to paint plein air, French for “in the open air. ” Some artists gravitated to familiar scenes like the Kuerner Farm, one of Andrew Wyeths favorite haunts, while others fanned out along winding back roads looking for a picturesque vista.

A couple of artists found inspiration on the nearby farm of Greg Williams, who said he enjoyed watching them work. Even better, “I really liked the results,” he said.

So after a brief struggle to choose between two different artists’ interpretations, Williams bought one of each. Unbeknownst to him, someone else had been eyeing one of his selections and made a decision to purchase it only to learn that another fan had snagged it.

Kendal Reynolds, the CFHS board president, said the woman was slightly relieved when she learned that the buyer was Williams. “It turned out that she’s his neighbor,” Reynolds explained. And even though she was disappointed, “She said: ‘At least I can go visit the painting.’”

A couple of other attendees weren’t so fortunate. “Oh no, that’s the one I wanted,” one guest lamented as a painting disappeared from the wall.

Some of the paintings were displayed on collectibles from Brandywine View Antiques, which were also for sale.

Some of the paintings were displayed on collectibles from Brandywine View Antiques that were also for sale.

Reynolds said she was pleased not only with the turnout for the event, which included returning as well as new visitors, but also the sales. By the end of the evening, 19 paintings had either been taken home by their new owner or displayed a red sold sticker. “I’m so happy for the artists,” said Reynolds.

She added that not everyone is able to make a quick decision. “Some people need to go home and think about it,” she said, adding that many paintings are sold in the weeks following the event.

Artist Jane Ramsey, a repeat participant who sold two paintings on Saturday evening, remembered one year when she came to pick up a painting that hadn’t sold on the day the display ended only to learn that someone had bought it hours earlier. “You never know what can happen,” she said, adding that she hopes to return next year. “I really enjoy painting in this area.”

Bruno Baran, chairman of the Mid-Atlantic Plein Air Painters Association and one of the participating artists, also applauded the results. He said about half of the artists in the exhibition belong to MAPAPA. “I think it’s a really strong show,” he said. “There’s a lot of talent, a lot of strong painting here.”

Sue Duerr, who recently joined the CFHS board, said she was attending the event for the first time. “I really love the smell of the paint,” she said as she surveyed one of the display rooms. “Plus, they’re really beautiful.”

Lisa Vonderstuck, owner of Brandywine View Antiques in Chadds Ford, fondly recalled her introduction to the event several years ago. She said someone who had attended it told her that one of the paintings featured her former shop in Pennsbury Township. Fortunately, the painting was still available when Vonderstuck went to the CFHS and bought it the following day, she said.

Scenes available for purchase included area landscapes and buildings, some well-known and some off the beaten track.

Scenes available for purchase included area landscapes and buildings, some well-known and some off the beaten track.

Since then, she has enjoyed a growing partnership with the society. For this year’s Plein Air Event, Vonderstuck brought in some antiques and collectibles, which were also for sale and were used to display some of the paintings. Last year, she teamed with the CFHS for a barn market that will be repeated. The Second Annual Spring Massive Barn Market is scheduled for Saturday, April 16, beginning at 9 a.m.

Artist Jacalyn Beam, one of the event organizers, said she believes the artists’ work dovetails beautifully with the mission of the historical society. “We’re basically documenting the historic Brandywine area in this time period,” she said, adding that the paintings would chronicle that history for years to come.

Beam said that this year marked the first time that artists were able to bring a couple of paintings done at other times. In the past, buyers could only choose from wintry scenes since the paintings were all completed in the same time frame. The change ensured that the CFHS walls never remained bare. If a painting sold and the owner wanted to take it right away, a new work quickly went up in its place.

For those who were unable to attend the event, the paintings will be available for inspection and sale at the Visitors’ Center through March 25. The Chadds Ford Historical Society is located on Creek Road, just north Route 1. Office hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, call 610-388-7376, email or visit

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