ALEXANDRIA BAY — Orion Art Gallery & Studios is hosting the 2023 Thousand Islands Plein Air Artist Competition.

Competition began at 8 a.m. Wednesday. Any interested artists may register at any time before or during the competition, until 5 p.m. Friday. An awards ceremony and silent auction will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Orion studio, 42901 State Route 12.

The Plein Air Artist Competition is part of Orion’s 2023 Thousand Islands Arts Festival from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. There will be will be two days of artist demonstrations, musician performances, and artist/crafters vendors show. There are nearly 20 participating vendors this year. Food and art vendors include Lakeland Vineyards, Syracuse; Straders Ice Cream, Sackets Harbor; and Fibinocci Art Gallery Artisans, Watertown.

Portions of the art festival proceeds will go to benefit the Watertown Area Rescue Mission (W.A.R.M.) in memory of well-known Clayton artist Gregory Lago, who was a main cog for Watertown’s Fibinocci Art Gallery and who died this past spring.

Live music at the ceremony will include Saturday performances by guitarists Gary Walts from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Joey Collins, from 3 to 5 p.m. On Sunday, Tim Greening with Josh Allen will perform from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Jim Wiley’s band, Let’s Cool One, will perform from 2 to 5 p.m.

The outdoor painting competition has been held in August annually since 2018, beginning at the former River Muse Art Gallery, and then moving to Orion Art Gallery & Studio in 2021.

In plein air artist competitions, participating artists must paint “en plein air,” or “outdoors in open air” with no photography or printed visual aids to complete their on-location artworks. This is just as the famous masters of the impressionist era of the 1800s painted, including Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet. Popular plein air artist competitions are held annually throughout the United States. The Thousand Islands region offers painters an unlimited selection of beautiful pristine islands, Seaway life, and river towns and villages from which to work.

The annual competition has attracted artists from throughout the northeast. This year’s judge will be Marina Lowe, curator of the Thousand Islands Arts Center.

Orion Art Gallery & studio is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon t0 3 p.m. on Sundays. The gallery features the works of 15 regional artists, a fully equipped ceramics studio and it offers classes in ceramics, painting, and drawing throughout the year.

For complete information on Plein Air Artist Competition registration, gallery events schedule, and class registrations, visit, or call 315-215-4099.

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