Plein Air Artist Exhibits Work at Vanderpoel Gallery

By Kristin Boza

The next exhibit at Vanderpoel Art Association Gallery in Ridge Park is the perfect inspiration to enjoy the great outdoors. Wisconsin artist Steve Gerhartz is a plein air artist — a French expression meaning “in the open air” — and an opening reception for his work will take place during BAPA’s Home Tour on Sun., May 21. People participating in BAPA’s tour are encouraged to enjoy the exhibit and the gallery.

Gerhartz began painting at the age of 14 with his older brother, Dan, using oil paint to create a landscape painting while outdoors during a November snow storm. This experience was pivotal in Gerhartz’s life and subsequent career. He attended Lyme Academy of Fine Art in Old Lyme, Conn., studying figure drawing, painting and sculpture in figure and portrait subjects.

With a solid background in the arts, Gerhartz now focuses all of his work on landscape painting, he said. This focus was solidified after he earned the John Stobart Outdoor Painting Fellowship in the year after his training at the Academy was complete.

Gerhartz’s exhibit at Vanderpoel Art Association is the latest of numerous exhibits over the last 30 years across the country.

“I am collected by major corporations in Wisconsin, and I have work in the Museum of Wisconsin Art,” Gerhartz said. “The thing I enjoy most about painting is being in the company of all of nature and being able to experience the relationships in nature.”

Gerhartz is moved most by the light present at different times of the day and as the seasons change. “The different effects of light are a major source of inspiration to me,” he said. “My favorite painters are many from the 19th century who were true to the subject matter they saw, whose brushwork captured the life of the subject.”

At the exhibit opening, Gerhartz will be in attendance. People on the Home Tour and the community can view Gerhartz’s work and meet him in person.