The Ernie Miller Nature Center often presents programs that merge nature and art, but few do so as directly as the new Art in the Park event set for April 7.
"Art in the Park is intended to get people in nature, enjoying the park while artists capture a small snapshot of the natural beauty," said Park Naturalist Andrea Joslin, who is organizing this event. "We hope to see the artists engaging the spectators, interpreting their art and teaching about their techniques."
From 9 a.m. to noon on this first Saturday in April, visitors are invited to walk the park's trails and watch local artists complete beautiful works of art “en plein air” (in plain air).
Admission is free for spectators, and visitors are invited to stop by the Ernie Miller Nature Center to vote on their favorite one.
Artists are required to complete their entire artwork onsite during the event. Winners will be announced at noon, and have their artwork displayed at the nature center, and a postcard of their masterpiece will be created and distributed at the nature center. In case of inclement weather, artwork may be created indoors at the Ernie Miller Nature Center using window views.
"Artists do not need to be professionals to participate," Joslin said. "Anyone with an art interest is encouraged to participate as an artist. We want both the artists and the spectators to just enjoy a spring morning enjoying both art and nature. We hope to have a mix of both youth and adult artists. So far, there have been more adults interested. Many of the adults are particularly interested because the event is intended to be educational in nature."
The deadline for artists to register for the event has been extended to Wednesday, April 4. Following registration, artists will receive an information packet. Artists need to provide a chair for themselves, as well as all of the supplies they need. For adult artists ages 16 and older, the cost is $15 per person for Johnson County residents or $17 for nonresidents. For youth artists, the cost is $10 per person for Johnson County residents or $11 for nonresidents.
The idea for this special event, which organizers hope will become an annual offering, came from the Great Plains Nature Center in Wichita.
"They do a similar plein air art event called Art on the Trail, and they shared their experience with some of our staff at a National Association for Interpretation Workshop session," Joslin said. "Ernie Miller Park has numerous natural features and native plant and animal species that make wonderful subjects for artwork. We plan to have artists stationed along the paved trails, to make it easy for spectators to find and view the artists at work."
Ernie Miller Park
is located at 909 N. Kansas 7 Highway, Olathe. To register for Art in the Park, call (913) 831-3359 or register online at www.jcprd.com for youth