The 15th Annual Plein Air Easton Awards

Plein Air Easton, the largest and most prestigious plein air festival in the nation, just completed its celebrated 15th year. It is widely recognized that a huge part of that success is a result of strong community support for the event and remarkably diverse partnerships between the event’s producer, the Avalon Foundation, Friends of Plein Air, a myriad of local organizations and an outpouring of community support. This support, rooted in a deep sense of place, has enabled the event to continue to grow and expand year after year.

The week kicked off with a pre-competition Paint-Out in Tilghman on July 11 where Suzie Baker took home the $1,000 Artists’ Choice Award (sponsored by Tilghman Watermen’s Museum). The following Saturday, competition artists could be found at the party of the summer known as the Meet the Artists Party. Art was celebrated in grand style while artists spent the afternoon painting on a private estate in Talbot County, and art collectors perused the formal gardens to watch the canvases in progress. The evening culminated in a gourmet farm-to-table dinner, and an exhibit and sale of the day’s work.

Paint Oxford was the next event on the schedule and took place on Sunday, July 14. This popular event hosts the competition artists throughout the day in Oxford and finishes in an exhibit, sale and two Artists’ Choice Awards. One award was presented by the Oxford Community Center in partnership with the Oxford Business Association; Aimee Erickson was that winner. New for this year, a WaterWays award (sponsored by Attraction Magazine) was given to Zufar Bikbov.

The competition artists handed in their collected works on July 18 and judge David Levy focused on selecting this year’s roster of winning paintings. Plein Air Easton’s Collector’s Party, July 19, was live- streamed and will remain available for viewing through our website. The Grand Prize: Timothy Dills Memorial Award (sponsored by Ellen Vatne) and Artists’ Choice Award (sponsored by Hali and Scott Asplund) were awarded to Aimee Erickson for her painting, “Brunch on the Patio.”

Aimee Erickson’s Grand Prize and Artists’ Choice Award Painting “Brunch on the Patio”

On Saturday, July 20, more than 150 artists painted in the blazing heat for the Quick Draw Competition. Nicholas O’Leary won First Place (sponsored by Holly & Gary Townsend) overall, Thomas Bucci won Best Alumni Painting (sponsored by September 1st Partners) and Jill Glassman won First Place in the non-competition artist category (sponsored by Chesapeake Fine Art Studios).

On Sunday, July 21st, the festival culminated with Small Painting Sunday (held in celebration of the life of Suzan Estelle Brice and sponsored by Ellen Vatne) and the Judge’s Talk, during which Dr. Levy explained his choices in depth, and bestowed the final round of awards to the 2019 competition artists.

Zufar Bikov took home Small Painting Sunday First Place; the Judge’s Talk is available for viewing through our website.

Plein Air Easton is a juried competition, however, winning First, Second, Third Places; Artists’ Choice; First Place Quick Draw and this year’s Alumni Quick Draw awards also come with the honor of an automatic invitation to the 16th Plein Air Easton competition, scheduled for July 12-19, 2020.

For a full list of awards and winners, click here.

Donations from Friends of Plein Air Easton support the event while promoting conservation and tourism through the arts.

Plein Air Easton is the work of the Avalon Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to foster a strong community on the Eastern Shore by creating accessible, uplifting arts, education, and cultural experiences that appeal to the interests of a diverse population and to ensure the long term viability of the historic Avalon Theatre. The event is supported by the Talbot County Arts Council, corporate donors, Friends of Plein Air Easton and strong community support.

Visit for details, upcoming events, recorded events and galleries of competition images.