by Angela Sanders

More than 40 fine artists will paint in the open air Sunday, June 14 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Germantown Avenue, as Chestnut Hill hosts its first alfresco painting competition – Plein Air.

The event, presented by Chestnut Hill’s Business District, aims to boost local business and make the community more welcoming. Plein Air, a family-friendly and free event, will bring a melting pot of artistry to the Hill for members of the community and sightseers from out of town to enjoy.

“Hopefully [Plein Air] will introduce new people to think of Chestnut Hill as a place to frequent – not only for its charm, but for its shopping and restaurants,” said Beth Milley of Villavillekula children’s boutique.

Visitors are welcome to peruse the paintings, listen to live music and experience the Hill’s gallery-esque air during this unique exchange of arts culture.

There will also be children’s craft activities, including jewelry making and caricatures at Villavillekula, and a mosaic (paint chips) art project at Sherwin Williams.

In association with the Business District, the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s (PMA) national arts initiative “Inside Out” and the Woodmere Art Museum have partnered up to display eight pop-up art installations along the Avenue. In five of these locations, the PMA and Woodmere have paired works from across the globe with artwork by Philadelphia artists.

Docents from Woodmere will be on site to engage with visitors answer questions about the artworks.

Artists participating in the painting competition will also have the opportunity to showcase their talent and sell works from their existing portfolios during the event.

In addition to the art of painting, the community can enjoy other arts such as “The Art of Fashion” and “The Art of Grilling.” Local shops and gifted chefs will take part in the event through fashion and grilling demonstrations.

One chef, Al Paris of Paris Bistro & Jazz Café, will demonstrate how to interact with fire in the making of a red brick grilled achiote chicken entrée at the Market at the Fareway.

“People have a tendency to ruin a whole lot of stuff on the grill, and there’s reasons for that,” Paris said. “Grilling is the driest, hottest form of cooking; it’s more of an art than a science.”

Plein Air has received applications from a wide range of talented artists. Some have formal education in the arts while others do not, and applicants are coming from both local and regional areas, said Martha Sharkey, executive director of Chestnut Hill’s Business District. All applicants are chosen through a juried application process.

“Since it’s our inaugural event, we’re just feeling our way there. If it were up to us, we would accept everyone,” Said O’Neill. “But, we have to leave it up to the jurors.”

Those selected will continue to prove themselves to the judges: acclaimed artist, Elizabeth Osborne, of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and Marsha Moss, public art curator and consultant, who’ll judge the paintings from 1:30 to 3 p.m.

The selected artists can win cash prizes and a free booth space at the Chestnut Hill Fall for the Arts Festival in October. The event comes to a close at 3 p.m., and prize announcements take place at 4 p.m. at the Chestnut Hill Hotel.

Valley Green Bank is the leading sponsor of Plein Air, helping to make this event possible. Other sponsors include Gravers Lane and McCarty galleries.

“I just love the idea of people painting up and down the Avenue,” said Paris. “If this first one goes well, there’s no reason that we can’t have artists panting up and down the street all summer long.”

For more information on Plein Air, visit