The Artists Are Coming! River Towns Plein Air Returns April 12-23

Written by Linda Ross

Yes, the artists are coming! You’ve probably heard a lot about River Towns Plein Air which is now entering its third year (April 12 – April 23) But, just what impact does this event have on Marietta and its residents? What impact does it have on visitors – artists and attendees who are here for the first time? How has this community embraced what now appears to be a widely anticipated annual event that coincides with the cherry blossoms?

As to the artists and visitors, a universal reaction is what a little gem we have here – the historic architecture, interesting streetscapes, the river, and the small town friendliness. Those who manned the desk at the exhibit say that many Lancaster Countians reported that they had never been here and will definitely come back as they had no idea what a charming little town this is. Others who came more of a distance were taken by the landscapes the artists represented and went exploring the area.

Often heard observations from Marietta Residents:

– It is interesting to watch artists working along our streets and to see what their trained eyes choose to capture. It is also interesting to see the array of subjects at the exhibit itself.

– There are many exclamations of “Oh, I know where that is!” but painters often capture a view or a detail that those of us who live here have somehow missed, no matter how many years we’ve walked through town. They definitely have fresh eyes upon things we take for granted.

Marietta resident Jane Dailey Hammond is a big supporter and was able to snag Beth Bathe’s People’s Choice Award painting. She says

“Our first encounter with Plein Air anywhere was right here in Marietta. Having this event in our own backyard was truly a privilege for all of us in the river towns. Being able to walk around town, seeing and speaking with artists as they produced their wonderful works of art was a pleasure.

I happened upon Beth Bathe for the first time on Front Street. Our beautiful cherry blossoms were blooming and Beth was doing a lovely interpretation of them. At the time, I thought to myself, “I should get that, it’s a beauty!” Days later, The RTPA Plein Air artists did a “quick draw competition” on Market Street. Artists were out painting with very limited time, 2 hours, I believe. Residents and visitors were walking and watching the works as they were being created. This is where I have my second encounter with the art of Beth Bathe and, again, fell in love with the piece she was bringing to life.

We attended the opening of the Art Exhibition at the Community House/Studio 264, here in Marietta. It was a wonderful showing and was well attended by many. Joyfully, we purchased that second piece of Beth’s that I fell in love with. Adding to our collection was a beautiful rendering of the cherry trees with The Wrights Ferry Bridge (one of our favorites) in the background by Mitchell Saler.”

Dave Knapp is another supporter. He says:

“We are very excited for the return of The Plein Air Artists. The Rivertownes Plein Air event embraces and supports our entire community. The art is truly phenomenal. We have purchased two wonderful pieces. The breadth of artistic talent is remarkable. This is an event I look forward to every year.”

It goes without saying that local restaurants and places that offer lodging are happy with the event!

Event organizer, Marietta Art Alive. is pleased that some residents have agreed to host artists for as long as they stay. If anyone is interested in hosting an artist this year, they should contact Linda Ross at 717-426-2258 and leave a message. For event details, see the ad in this edition of the Traveler and/or visit