Beautiful Root County Showcase of the 2022 Plein Air Event at the Museum

Artist Nelia Harper paints the front of the Backdoor Sports-Wheels Bike Shop on Yampa Street during the 2019 Plein Air event at the Steamboat Art Museum.
John F Russell/ Steamboat Pilot and Today’s Archive

The beautiful fall scenery of Rott County will be on full display next week as the Steamboat Art Museum hosts the Plein Air 2022 event. The annual event brings 50 artists from across the country to Rott County to paint “en plein air” — outside, right now.

The event will begin on Saturday, September 24, with a quick raffle at the farmers market where each artist will set up their easel in downtown Yampa Street for a two-hour drawing. The paintings will then be framed, displayed and sold at noon at the Steamboat Museum of Art’s booth.

The Quick Draw event, now in its fourth year, has long been a favorite with locals and visitors.

“We are expecting a great response from the public,” said event organizer Dancy St John who is the museum’s director of grants. “Sales are strong, market vendors love the hype it creates, artists love the large audience, and customers love that the event is accessible and free.”

Painting subjects of the past have included the market, the Yampa River, views of Holson Hill, and idyllic scenes of Steamboat buildings and storefronts.

The Quick Draw event kicks off a week of drawing that includes days when artists have access to private farms and historic properties, a sunset reception, and a meet-and-greet with artists at Alpine Mountain Ranch. The painting they painted from somewhere on the property – and “Paint the Town Day” in conjunction with the Main Street Steamboat when artists paint Downtown.

On Friday, September 30, a volunteer crew will hang more than 200 paintings of the week in the museum. Panels will be judged by this year’s guest, Dan Young, as well as by representatives of the non-profit organizations sponsoring the Excellence Awards. First, second, third place and two honorary mentions will be awarded by the judge during the inaugural reception and the exhibition will remain on display until November 5.

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According to St. John, the gallery now brings in nearly as many visitors per month as there are during the museum’s busiest months. As the event has evolved over the years, it has earned a reputation for not only being well organised, but able to inspire both the novice and professional artist with its amazing drawing sites.

Dubbed the Unique Steamboat, the event brings the beautiful landscapes of Rott County and its friendly community to life through the eyes of the painters.

“As a very long-time Steamboat resident with a long career in the arts, this week represents a convergence of what I love,” said Betsy Grasby, the museum’s executive director. “There are so many wonderful artists painting this valley. The museum is then filled with over 200 paintings of a home community, each a unique view through the artists’ eyes. I always see a lot of this valley a little differently after each Plein Air event.”

For more information and to purchase tickets for individual events, visit

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