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Non-Profit Happenings September 2012

Plein Air Moab Festival
by Phil Wagner

PLEIN AIR PAINTING is a way to see again and as Yeats says, “for the first time!” I paint because it’s evolutionary. I paint outside in the open air because it allows me to really see the miracle we are surrounded by, and good painting is a minor miracle; it causes a blind man to “see.” The ordinary is appreciated as a small miracle. Good painting is a rabbit hole; there’s a whole different world just below the surface. Like Alice, the painter falls in and takes the spectator along for what happens next.

Photo of Phil WagnerPlein air painting is a balancing act, a dance, juggling perspective, light, mood, color, temperature, contrast to maximize subtle tensions without causing chaos. Nature is continuously changing, and thus all the balance of light, temperature, mood, color, edges, and perspective need constant adjusting. A good painting demonstrates this constant changing balance. Nothing is static.

Good painting takes faith in your own intuition, trust in your own experience, and work, work and more work. The process allows the artist to enter, penetrate, be part of nature and create, just like nature does, something unique.

“Looking” is different than really “seeing”. Plein air painting teaches one to “see”. It’s not comfortable; it moves you; it disturbs you. Nothing compares to the spontaneity of nature as it changes constantly, and like sex, you trust your instincts follow the lines, feel the curves, move ahead, give expression to the emotional wind. Plein air painting is a tool; it enables Painters easel and painting on Center Street sidewalksthe artist to once again explore nature and the nature of things, be part of it, integrate, feel everything safely and with abandon. It takes skill and practice, but the rewards are always a double bonus for the effort. With experience, the reward of painting becomes the PROCESS itself, and thus the artist’s happiness is liberated from the PRODUCT. Oddly, the more fun and pleasure the artist derives from the process, the better the painting! The artist discovers new crooks and crannies, new feelings and demonstrates new modes of finding things. The artist is simply a great lover, an interested explorer, ready and willing to pursue, like a cat chasing a string, never tiring, enjoying an enthusiastic, healthy imagination. Lack of fear is a requisite. The willingness to gamble is a requisite.

Unknown painter in the Moab desert paintingPlein air painting is like falling in love. A new focal point appears in your life. As Yeats says, you really see and feel “as if for the first time”. In love, all the elements of your life are re-directed around this dazzling, hypnotic subject. Art makes big changes happen. Emily Dickenson says “it takes the top of your head off”. Think about it: From the age of the tiny Hobbit to the burly Neanderthal, some variant of the line “Come up and see my etchings!” has been working successfully to change history since the Caveman charcoal artist in the Dordogne to the Homosapien abstract expressionist in the Soho in New York. This same “falling in love” sequence occurs today in any great painting. Think about the Mona Lisa’s, the suggestions trembling in her eyes and quirky lips. Who wouldn’t “come on up” to check out her drawings?

Good art can push all other relationships in your life into a new perspective. Good plein air painting strikes us all at once like a lightning bolt; it knocks us off our wooden merry-go-round horse. Like new love, the fresh “seeing” restructures our lives. A mysterious presence surrounds us. The Mona Lisa doesn’t get old; one afternoon with her and you feel brand new. A good painting is a loaded shotgun with the trigger just pulled but the hammer not yet striking the bullet to cause the explosion; the painting is potential energy which is completed as a work or art when it clicks and explodes in the heart of the Spectator.

Phil Wagner is a painter registered in
Plein Air Moab 2012 scheduled for Oct. 5-13

Moab Senior Games

Calling all baby boomers! Moab, Utah welcomes all adults, ages 50 and older, to the sporting and lifestyle event of the year – the Moab Senior Games. This inaugural event expects several hundred senior sports enthusiasts.

Senior Games event logo and datesModeled after the renowned Summer National Senior Games, the world’s largest multi-sport event for seniors, the Moab Senior Games will be held November 7-11, 2012. This year’s event will feature 11 events including: archery; basketball; bridge; dance; golf; horseshoes; pickleball; race walk; swimming; tennis; and volleyball.

“Our goal with the Moab Senior Games is to capture the best of the Moab lifestyle for older adults,” said Suzan Martin, the event’s founder. “Each event helps promote a healthy lifestyle, bringing information and opportunity for good mental and physical health to Games’ participants.”

The five-day event is being actively supported by the Moab community from sponsorship and accommodations to health and wellness information. Current sponsors include the City of Moab; Aarchway Inn; Big Horn Lodge; the Grand Center; Humana; KZMU radio; Law Firm of James Slavin; Larson & Rosenberger LLP; Mountain America Credit Union; the Moab Area Travel Council and Rio Rojo Design & Sales.

Event registration is available via Activities start at $3 and range to $40. Event management expects several hundred participants, primarily from across Utah and Colorado, for the first year’s Games. The schedule for the variety of sporting events and activities is currently being finalized but is updated regularly online.

For adults interested in participating in one, or several Games events, Martin also encourages volunteer participation to support the Games infrastructure and activities. Persons interested in volunteering should complete the online application and contact Martin with any questions.

For more information about the Moab Senior Games,
visit Find us on Facebook at
or contact Suzan Martin 435-260-0161 or

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