Published in Coast Magazine Spring 2023, Spring 2023
Up Your Arts Plein Air Festival is returning to Southport Thursday through Saturday, May 18 through May 20. Last year’s Plein Air festival drew 75 artists to Southport, and more are expected this year as it expands into a three-day event and will move its final day of activities to Franklin Square Park after outgrowing Keziah Park.
The move demonstrates the festival’s increased popularity, and its continued success has helped Southport become a fixture among the various and robust plein air groups and individual artists across North Carolina and beyond.mFrench impressionist painters started the “Plein Air” or open air style of painting in the late 1800s. Southport provides the perfect backdrop for painting outdoors, with its views of the waterfront to historic buildings and streetscapes, the Cape Fear River, Oak trees, homes, the Intracoastal waterway, the yacht basin and, of course, the boats.
Residents and visitors to the city for the festival are encouraged to interact with the artists if they see them out and about, as Southport’s welcoming atmosphere is one of the reasons for the event’s annual success. A survey of last year attendees showed painters felt overwhelmed by the city’s hospitality. The three-day event will kick off Thursday and artists will spend the next two days painting the city from virtually every angle and perspective.