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Plein Air Wisconsin--La Crosse Area Plein Air Artists

2. Artists' Biographies and Art
3. Club Background
4. Club Photo Album
5. Contact Us
6. Interviews with Artists
7. Members List
8. Recent and Upcoming Events
9. Related Links

3. Club Background

Joining Our Group

You can join and unjoin our group at any time.  We have no formal meetings at which we discuss art happenings or showings or give seminars.  We just get together to paint.  We inspire each other.  We enjoy the camaraderie of other artists. 
There is no fee for getting together, ispiring each other, and enjoying the camaraderie.  Join us--you will like it!

History of Our Club

La Crosse Area Plein Air Artists began with the happy marriage of art and gardens.  On May 9 of 2003, the Holy Trinity Tulip Walk included a new garden, one resplendent with 1200 tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and other spring flowering bulbs.  Only one year ago it was a lawn, but Dolores Marusarz, artist and gardener, was determined to create the same beauty in her garden as she hopes she does on her canvases. 


When Tess Burlingame, one of the organizers of the Tulip Walk, asked Marusarz to have her garden in the walk, Marusarz seized the opportunity to ask if her artist friends could set up their easels and paint during the walk.  Burlingame immediately agreed, thinking the activity would add to the pleasure of the hundreds of people touring the gardens.  It proved to be a hit; many people told Burlingame that they were thrilled to see both the flowers and the artists painting pictures of them.  That day marked the beginning of the La Crosse Area Plein Air Artists, a group begun by Marusarz the day after the tulip walk, in response to both the delight of the artists and onlookers in the garden, and the remarks made by the artists about getting together again to paint plein air.


The term plein air means to paint outdoors rather than in a studio.  The term came into use in the 1850s in France, where a group of artists decided that they wanted to paint the effect of sunlight on objects rather than just the plain objects themselves.  Their paintings came to life, and later were called impressionistic paintings.  They are still very popular.  Movements for plein air artists are alive in California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Connecticut, but none in the Midwest.  The La Crosse group brings Wisconsin into the movement.  Although the La Crosse group is new, it has already been recognized by the Wisconsin Arts Board as a grass roots movement (free to all those who wish to join) and is listed on Portal Wisconsin.  The group has received attention from television stations, newspapers, and radio programs.  The progress has been fast but has followed a plan made by Marusarz following the successful day of painting at the Tulip Walk.


She began by writing a list of the places in La Crosse that would afford artists a beautiful view while also being accessible to the public.  She found many such places, including Riverside Park, Pettibone Park, Nelson Park, Goose Island, the Paul E. Stry Nature Preserve, and more.  Next she made the rounds of the governmental and private departments in charge of those places so she could learn the rules about using those facilities.  Everyone gave their gracious permission for the artists to work in those places as long as there were no sales on public property.  Since one of the points of doing artwork in public is to educate and to inspire onlookers to join in with the artists, that was no problem.  Once Marusarz got the ball rolling, she asked the entire membership of Eastbank Artists, La Crosse Society of Arts and Crafts, and other artists to join in the plein air paint outs, as they are called.  The membership of the Plein Air Artists is now 25 and growing.


They meet twice a month on weekends.  Dates can be found on the Events page of this web site.  The public is urged to join the artists.  All the materials they need are at each meeting and are provided free. 


In October 2003 the group will have its first showing at the Main Street Gallery in Onalaska.  The artists have decided to contribute a portion of all sales to the ALS Foundation.  Drawings that the public leaves with the artists will also be sold, with all proceeds going to the charity.  Susan Snyder, an artist and writer in La Crosse, died several years ago from the disease.


Our Club Officers

Since this is an informal group, with no charter and no fees, we don't have elections or officers.  Anyone who is willing to help with something is more than welcome to do so.  Members who have made contributions include Barbara Decker, Tinya Meeker, Connie Long, and others.  Sometimes the help is in the form of a suggestion, sometimes in the form of physical help in setting up the materials for passers-by to create art with, sometimes in forwarding email to other artists who might be interested in joining us, and sometimes in photographing the artists at work.  In any case it is always deeply appreciated. 

If you wish to offer suggestions, your help will be appreciated as well.