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'Plein Air in the Smokies' event aims to raise money for GSMNP

The nonprofit Friends of the Smokies is hosting the creative and artistic fundraiser to bring in much-needed funding for the park.
Credit: Friends of the Smokies

BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. — The natural beauty of East Tennessee is hard to miss. Starting next week, artists from across the nation will flock to the Great Smoky Mountains to capture it on canvas.

The outdoor paintings will raise money for the nonprofit Friends of the Smokies, and you can help.

The fundraiser is called "Plein Air in the Smokies." Starting Monday, Sept. 26, 20 artists will pick up their paintbrushes, paint the beauty of our backyard and help raise money for the park.

"En Plein Air" literally means "painting outside." 

"It started with the Impressionist artistic movement, when it was easier to have portable easels and paints, and what they are really trying to do is capture the light and the motion in the moment," Friends of the Smokies Senior Special Projects Director Lauren Gass said.

While the actual painting is a big part of this fundraiser for Friends of the Smokies, there are other events throughout the week and ways people can get involved and donate.

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, you can watch the artists paint at Elkmont; on Thursday, every artist will paint at Cades Cove; and on Saturday morning, they will be painting in downtown Maryville for a "Quick Draw" competition. 

On Saturday evening, there will be an opportunity to buy the art at a gala. You can purchase a ticket for $250. That ticket price can be used toward the purchase of a painting.

"We are doing some things for the park that is just not in their budget, so the money raised from this event is going to go toward the preservation of historic structures in the park," Gass said.

The event goes through Oct. 2, with something to see and do each day. There will be a chance for the general public to buy some of the art on the last day, Sunday.

You can find more information and buy tickets at pleinairinthesmokies.org.

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