Plein Air: Best of Show
CEDARBURG'S FIRST PLEIN AIR FESTIVAL. Cedarburg has a history as an artists’ haven or destination for artists to paint outdoors or en plein air, for at least 130 years. Therefore, it is natural that the Midwest’s first plein air painting festival should start in Cedarburg. Artists Dave Eitel and Sandra Pape were the instigators and along with volunteers from the Cedarburg Artists Guild formed Cedarburg’s first outdoor painting festival in 2001. The Cedarburg Artists Guild continued its support of the Cedarburg Plein Air Event over the years while the event continues to attract 150 artists to the community each June. Sandy Pape, who spearheaded Cedarburg’s earliest festival, obtained sponsorship for a Best of Show Purchase Award from Ozaukee Bank in its first year. Ozaukee Bank or its later Gift to the Future Fund continues to provide the Purchase Award for the Best of Show award to the current day.
PLEIN AIR PAINTINGS AS GIFTS TO CEDARBURG ART MUSEUM. In late 2012, when an opportunity arose with the historic Wittenberg-Jochem home for sale on Cedarburg’s main street, the Ozaukee Bank’s Gift to the Future Fund purchased the building as the potential home for the soon-to-be-formed Cedarburg Art Museum as a gift to the community. In 2013, when the historic building reopened as the Cedarburg Art Museum, many of the plein air Best of Show award-winning paintings from earlier years in the Ozaukee Bank Artwork Collection were part of the initial, 49-piece Bank gift to the new museum. Today, the Cedarburg Art Museum Collection numbers several hundred more artworks, and its complete collection of award-winning plein air paintings from Cedarburg's annual festival is a shining jewel within it. In 2021, Cedarburg marks the 20th anniversary of its first plein air festival, the longest-running and largest outdoor painting event in the Midwest.