The Central City Plein Air Festival was a success!  Thank you to everyone who attended, supported and purchased artwork, making this third annual event a safe and celebratory smash hit. Special thanks to our sponsors Nancy Benson (Gold), The City of Central and The Central City Business Improvement District (Bronze) and to Derry Coe, The Gilpin County Arts Association, Monarch Casino and Karen and Andrew Ritz for additional support.

Stay tuned for more information about the 2021 Plein Air Festival.

Purchase Artwork from the Plein Air Festival

Featured artwork from the 2020 Plein Air Festival is now available for purchase online. 

2020 Artist Awards

Best in Show

Gold in the Hills
by Virginia Unseld

Richie Vios for Courthouse

First Place

by Richie Vios

Second Place  |  Rebecca Gorrell for Top of the World

Second Place

Top of the World
by Rebecca Gorrell

Central City Opera House painting by Andy White

Best Opera House Painting

by Andy White

Artists' Choice

Everything Changes
by Andy White

Quick Draw Competition  |  Richie Vios

Quick Draw Competition

by Richie Vios

Support the Plein Air Festival

Donate now to support the Annual Central City Plein Air Festival. Your gift will help us continue to bring arts and culture to the City of Central.

Meet the 2020 Artists

Walda Juhl

Walda Juhl views the world through a lens of value and color. Her perspective is an abstract realism that portrays the world of motion and warmth and stillness and coolness with watercolor methods on paper. For Walda Juhl there is no better day than to be out of doors, freely creating a new painting.

Virginia Unseld

Virginia Unseld’s passion is painting en plein air in oils and pastels. Since moving to Colorado from Pittsburgh in 1978, she has been recording her interpretations of the western landscape. The constantly changing sunlight provides a challenge to quickly capture shadows and colors. Virginia also feels the need to document the beauty of empty places which are quickly disappearing.  Her work is about joyous mark-making as much as it is about the subject. Virginia Unseld’s philosophy is that it is not what you paint but how you paint it that is important.

Spencer Meagher

Each of Spencer Meagher paintings is an attempt to express something unique about the subject before him. His goal is to open the viewer’s eyes to how he sees and experiences the world. Spencer wants to help the viewer see common links between shapes within not only the subject itself, but everything around it. To him, this is achieved most effectively by careful observation and execution of value.

Rebecca Gorrell

“If you draw, the world becomes more beautiful.” -J.O. Plaven. Rebecca Gorrell’s goal when she paint is to reveal the beauty in the simplest things - the shadows caressing the contours of a building, the lovely desolation of a wide-open landscape or the mystery of a lit window at night. Rebecca Gorrell loves what she does, and she loves sharing it with others.

Sandy Marvin

Sandy Marvin is a Colorado artist working primarily in soft pastel. Real-world subject matter is her starting point, be it as complex as a landscape or as simple as a single piece of fruit. She uses composition, color and technique to communicate the meaning and emotions that attract her to the subject, to create a memorable visual experience for the viewer. Some of Sandy’s more recent work is abstract, based on patterns and shapes in the environment or in the work on her easel.

Richie Vios

Richie Vios believes that the mark of a good artist is the ability to capture the different facets of life in a painting’s mode, ambiance, etc. In a sense, not only illustrating or recording what is seen, but expressing what the artist feels. As a plein-air artist, watercolor is Richie Vios’ perfect medium of choice. If you paint with no fear and a smile on your face, you can paint a masterpiece every time!

David Collins

David Collins is a Denver-area based artist whose interests include landscape, still-life, and figure painting. His primary concerns are with capturing accurate form and mood with exciting color. Traditionally trained at the New York Academy of Art, David is committed to furthering the cause of romantic realism in art through traditional means. He most enjoys the arts of landscape and figure painting in oils. Studying the colors of nature outdoors, and in the studio with models, provides him with endless inspiration. David Collins has painted around the U.S. and Europe, most recently in Ireland.

Shelley Howard

As an artist, Shelley Howard is interested in capturing the spirit of a place. Shelley’s use of spontaneous markmaking and heightened color creates a kind of rhythm that serves to unify the elements.

David Pyle

For over 30 years, David Pyle has carried a paint box while traveling, looking to create images that tell stories. He began his career with a degree in painting and drawing. From there, David went on to study organic chemistry, while also showing paintings in local Colorado galleries. The intersection between art and science opened an array of exhilarating opportunities in the arts, eventually allowing him to serve as North American Marketing Director for Winsor + Newton and Liquitex, two of the leading brands in artists products. In 2006, David became the publisher for The Artist’s Magazine in Cincinnati, followed by American Artist Magazine in New York in 2008, still while continuing to paint. Now, David Pyle is doing what he loves most as an active plein-air painter.

Patty Voje

Patty Voje grew up in the country where she spent her youth surrounded by rolling hills, farm animals and woods. Patty, now a city dweller, spends her weekends driving through the countryside to search for the little farms from her youth. She takes any opportunity she can to immerse herself in nature painting alla prima style. Patty Voje was most recently awarded 1st Place at the 2018 Boulder Plein Air Competition, and received the Excellence in Content & Form Award at the 2018 Minnesota State Fair’s Fine Art Juried Exhibit.

JR Monks

JR Monks paints the West: his home and heritage. The medium of oils and watercolor allow JR to capture the infinite beauty of nature, and the brush is his vehicle to best express the emotional connection he has for the subject matter.

Andy White

Andy White is a recent military retiree and empty-nester. This stage of life has given him more time to devote to his art career. Andy has sought instruction, attended multiple workshops, set up a studio, developed a website and participated in plein air events. Andy White’s hope is that his viewers will enjoy the way his brushwork portrays the west!

Nancy Lewis

As a child, Nancy received prizes for her innate talent. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Art from Cleveland Institute of Art. After receiving her degree, she headed west to paint outside in the amazing landscape. She creates most paintings outside in plein air, or in her studio when the weather is poor. Nancy has participated in invitational national parks plein air events and open plein air events. She coordinates weekly painting events for Plein Air Artists of Colorado and holds bi-monthly art classes to help in suicide preventions. Nancy Lewis teaches classes and workshops, and her art can be viewed at the Blue Pig Gallery in Palisade, Colorado.

Mark Akins

Mark Akins has won several Best in Show, 1st Place, 2nd Place, People Choice, Award of Merit, Patron Purchase, multiple Quick Draw and Honorable Mention awards. Mark’s paintings are in numerous public and private collections. For example, three of his major studio paintings were recently purchased by Colorado Mesa University for the new Health Science Building, and three of his pieces are permanent installations at the Littleton Adventist Hospital. Mark has attended several juried events throughout Texas, Washington, New Mexico and Colorado.

Lorrie Beck

Lorrie Beck’s art is inspired by the beauty of nature and all its components, sometimes man made. As she continues to interpret the world around her, she tries to find her own perspective to tell a story. Her goal in each new piece is to not only render the subject accurately, but also to give it a breath of life. Lorrie Beck represent the story in line, value, contrast and color. Her media choices include oils, pastels or pencils.

Laura Martinez-Bianco

As a plein air painter, Laura Martinez-Bianco is drawn to the light, color and shapes of a landscape. In each painting she challenges herself to capture not only the physical elements of the terrain, but the light, atmosphere and feeling it provides. When her audience recognizes the landscape she’s painted, and feels its atmosphere and space, her challenge is complete.

Karen Spotts

A now retired high school art teacher in Colorado, Karen Spotts finds time to devote to her love of pastels and Colorado history, sights and scenery. She loves to travel, and much of her inspiration comes from the places she’s been. Karen’s favorite pieces were created while Plein air painting in Colorado.

Karen Cooper

With guidance from her mentor, Karen Cooper began plein air painting seven years ago while living in Russia. Since returning to live in the US in December 2017, Karen has focused on increasing her plein air capabilities. Oil is her medium of choice and she prefers a slightly larger canvas than the average plein air painter. Karen uses a limited color palette, striving for the strong image. What drives Karen Cooper forward, is that the painting must be a thing of substance and solidity and interest and beauty.


Nancy Benson

The City of Central
The Central City Business Improvement District

Additional Support Provided By:
Derry Coe
The Gilpin County Arts Association
Monarch Casino
Karen and Andrew Ritz

Outdoor Tent Sponsored By:
Dr. Sarah K. Scott & Mr. Kevin Kearney

Support the Plein Air Festival

Donate now to support the Annual Central City Plein Air Festival. Your gift will help us continue to bring arts and culture to the City of Central.