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8128 Flannery Ct., Manassas
Next to Merrifield Garden Center
"Yesterday, my shower was ugly.
Today, it's beautiful!"
Paint! Manassas Event Brings Local
Art Community Together
~ Caitlin Scott
On refl ection, Michele Frant z says that
art was the only thing she was ever
interested in doing professionally. After
a brief stint in a nine-to-fi ve job, Michele
decided to leave that life behind and
pursued a life as an artist. In 1991, she
opened Arcadia Studio near Independent
Hill, and she never looked back. "The
word `arcadia' can refer to an ideal
place," says Michele. "This is my own
little private piece of arcadia, my utopia."
As an artist, Michele
has been extremely
productive. Manassas
has her to thank
Paint! Manassas,
launched a little over
a decade ago when
she was serving as
Manassas Art Guild
president. This annual
event gathers artists
from around the
region and invites them to set up their
easels for a landscape "paint-off." The
friendly competition is made up of two
parts, starting with
a one-day painting
contest and then a
whole month in which
artists can create
works inspired by the
area around historic
Manassas. Though
cash prizes are
awarded, the event
is really a celebration
of local talent and the
beauty of the city.
To participate, artists
must sign up, pay
a small entry fee,
and get their support
(the canvas or paper
they intend to paint
to prove the art was
created for the event.
This year, the one-day
contest that sets the
event in motion was
held on September
16. "It's so exciting to
see the art that's generated that day,"
says Michele. "It's a lot of fun to be out
there because the people walking by stop
to ask what you're
doing, and some even
take your picture as
you paint. You feel
like you're part of the
entertainment for that
Shortly after she
Michele discovered
Plein Air Painters,
an organization based on the centuries-
old French impressionist en plein
air movement that
encourages artists to
leave the studio and
paint landscapes in the great outdoors.
When she learned that the organization
sponsors a worldwide annual "paint out"
day, she decided to coincide the one-day
contest portion of her event with the day
that artists all over the globe paint en
plein air.
The artists have from
9:00 a.m. to 3:00
p.m. to complete their
paintings, and awards
are given out after a
judge evaluates their
work. This year, the
judge was Center
for the Arts gallery
director Jordan Exum.
At the conclusion
of the month, the
are submitted and
undergo evaluation by a group called
p-ART-ners, a professional network of
Manassas-area artists. Members of
p-ART-ners choose
which works will go
on display at Grounds
Central Station coffee
house in Old Town
Last year, a "People's
Choice" award was
added, where the
public is invited to
cast a vote for their
at the coffee shop.
Winners of this award
will be announced at
the fall gallery walk
on November 3. "The
response from people
has been great," says
Michele. "I encourage
participate and stop
by Grounds Central
Station to view the
paintings and vote for
your favorite."
Starting November 6, the exhibit will
move to City Hall art gallery, where it
will expand to include all of the work
that resulted from
creative surge. "My
Manassas is that it
is a city that wants
to bring attention to
local artists," says
Michele. "My gut
feeling is that artists
are everywhere, but
they tend to converge
and become visible
opportunity. I'm grateful that Manassas is
such a place."
Rachel Garcia-Palmer
Anne Alden
Paula Cottrell
Theresa Miller