The first week of July will see artists from throughout Europe gathering in Wheeling for a week-long plein air painting experience.

For more than 20 years, painters from Great Britain, Switzerland, Germany, the United States and France have gathered to paint in a different host country each year. The Journees de Peinture is all about painting, sightseeing and fellowship.

Artists are housed by local residents who are often artists themselves. This year’s event is under the leadership of Bobbie Priebe and her committee, who have been working on plans since last summer. The amount of work involved is monumental and requires months of behind-the-scenes work by Priebe. She has met regularly with her committee, Meg Geroch, Sandra Hadsell, Pat Jacobson, Bob Sako, Greg Siegwart, Janet Sheehan, Janet Wang, Donna Hall and Anne Foreman

Priebe explained that plein air painting means the artists paint outside. Setting up their portable easels, they paint the scenes  in front of them. Whether the Alps or the Ohio River bridges, these talented artists portray their interpretation of what they see. According to Priebe, this year’s locations include Wheeling and Oglebay parks; Raven Rocks in Bethesda, Ohio; New Vrindaban near Moundsville; and various Wheeling locations, including the Heritage Port and other Ohio River views.

Painters will gather on Sunday, June 30, and paint all week until Friday, July 5.

Susan Johnston

According to the first president of Artworks Around Town, Susan Johnston, “The Journees de Peinture began in Seysell, France, by a restaurant owner named Jacques who wanted to develop activities that would bring activities to the community and support local businesses.”

Painters who participated in the late 1990s were from Carouge, Suisse and Tain/Tourons, France. In the summer of 2000, James and Kathleen Keegan of Bethany who owned a house in Seysell arranged to have their neighbor, Susan Johnston, participate in the week of painting in Tournons. During Susan’s stay, the artists expressed an interest in painting in the U.S. The next summer, she organized the event here in 2001. Every year since then, artists have met at host countries, which have included France, England, Switzerland, Belgium and Germany.

This year’s group includes three artists from France, one from Switzerland, two from Germany, two from England and eight from the U.S. Next year, painters will meet at Saddleworth, Greater Manchester, England.

Artworks Around Town will provide space for this assembly of international artists. While not directly involved in preparation of the event, Artworks is honored to welcome these artists to their gallery. Many of the U.S. painters are members of Artworks.

On Sunday, June 30, painters, hosts and visitors will enjoy a free reception at Artworks Around Town starting at 6 p.m. This event, as well as all painting opportunities, are open to the public.

The painting schedule is as follows: Monday, July 1, New Vrindaban; Tuesday, July 2, Wheeling Suspension Bridge, Heritage Port, Wheeling Island, etc.; Wednesday, July 3, Ravens Rock, Beallsville; Thursday, July 4, Martins Ferry School campus (for good views of the river); Friday, July 5, Oglebay.

A farewell dinner and reception will take place at Artworks on Friday, July 5, catered by Undo’s with dessert from Oliver’s; the charge is $20 per person. Reservations must be made by June 11.

There is a charge for meals during the week for anyone participating in the sessions. Deadline for meal reservations is June 11. Price schedules and registration forms are available at the desk at Artworks Around Town, 2200 Market St., Wheeling. For a more detailed list of times and locations, meal reservations and any questions pertaining to the week, send an email to bjpriebe@yahoo.com

Participating artists will hang their work for a week in the new Studio Gallery at the north end of Artworks. Some of the work will be for sale.

The regularly scheduled First Friday Gallery Hop will be moved to the second Friday, July 12, at Artworks.

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