The Brigham City Museum of Art & History is pleased to announce the winners of its 2021 Plein Air Competition, a partnering program with the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts THRIVE125: Celebrating Utah’s Statehood campaign. Allen Brockbank's Best in Snow took first place, followed by Sean Wallis’ Rushing Waters in second place, and Kraig Jardine’s January Sunshine taking third place. Merit awards were given to Barbara Brandeburg's Pioneer Lane, Bran Williams’ Blue Water and Joan Ellsworth’s' Winter Day in Midway. Russell Case, widely renowned plein air artist and Brigham City local, served as jurist. Click here to access the event.
First Place Award: Allen Brockbank "First in Snow"
Second Place Award: Sean Wallis "Rushing Waters"
Third Place Award: Kraig Jardine "January Sunshine"
Plein Air competitions are community challenges for artists of any level to celebrate the beauty and wonder of the natural world. The spirit of plein air requires artists to paint their entries entirely “out in the open air”. In 2020, the Museum switched the competition to the winter for the first time. Glowing feedback from the artists for this change made it stick for 2021. This wintertime plein air opportunity seeks to celebrate Utah in a season rarely captured through other plein air competitions. “Utah’s winter landscape is something truly special,” said Alana Blumenthal, Museum Director. “We are so grateful to the artists who brave the cold in order to capture its unique qualities.”
With multiple honors and awards to his name over his 30 year career as an artist, Case is known for his ability to capture the Western landscape. He has always been passionate about plein air and the challenges and beauty that are inherent in them. His plein air works seek to provide a sense of space, something he sought while judging the competition. “Plein air painting is a tool artists use to represent what they see in front of them,” he said. “Being on location and painting on the spot gives the artists an opportunity to relay the atmosphere, the complexity of the landscape, through good compositional thinking of color, shapes, and overall design”.
Allen Brockbank has won numerous plein air competitions, as is the case for this year’s competition with Best in Snow. His works are shown and collected throughout the Intermountain West. He loves winter events for many reasons. “Getting outside is good for the soul,” said Brockbank. “Painting outdoors is what I do. It’s what I love, think about, work at, and struggle with. My goal in doing plein air work is to convey to others my experience and love for a place. I try to bring the outside in”.
For Sean Wallis, plein air painting is a family affair. He trained under his father, renowned impressionist Kent R. Wallis, and now teaches art at The Center for Creativity, Innovation and Discovery in Cache Valley. For his second place award winning Rushing Waters, Wallis found himself headed up Logan Canyon with a thermos of hot chocolate, a must for painting in Winter’s cold air. “ I set up next to this bubbling stream and was hypnotized by rushing water”, siad Wallis. “ I paid close attention to the stretching shadows as they reached across the snow. I noticed the dark recesses where the water had cut like a knife through the snow, providing the contrast that give this painting its mood”.
Kraig Jardine’s passion for plein air painting stems from being on location. His third place award winning January Sunshine takes on a complex mountain scene in Perry, Ut with a captivating mastery of color. “I enjoy getting outdoors and being part of nature,” said Jardine. “ I like the challenge of matching landscape colors by mixing oil paint with a knife. Competitions are a means for motivation. Some don't turn out as expected. I was surprised how well some did turn out, and they are very precious. They are treasures held tight.”
A virtual awards ceremony, including a panel discussion with the competition’s winners and jurist, will take place via Facebook Live at 6:00 PM on Thursday, March 4. Access to the recording will then be available on the museum’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.