YARDLEY-NEWTOWN >> Just a few short weeks ago, 55 local and regional artists were set up on downtown streets and in open fields creating en plain air images of Yardley, Newtown and Washington Crossing.

Now their works, from the Bird in Hand in Newtown to the Yardley Service Station, can be seen live and up oerson Friday, Saturday and Sunday, June 11, 12 and 13 from 12 to 5 p.m. inside the AOY Art Center in Lower Makefield. It can also be viewed online at aoyartcenter.org.

The exhibition is the culmination of “Our Towns Through Artists’ Eyes,” a en plein air festival organized by the AOY Art Center and featuring works created en plein air during a two week period in mid to late May.

During an awards presentation held at the AOY Art Center, AOY President Allison Smith joined event organizer Bette Sovinee in presenting awards to the top three works in the show along with two honorable mentions.

The art, said Smith, is “incredible and something unique and special to experience.” She encourages everyone to either view the show online or in person at the AOY Art Center.

Sovinee presented the first place award to Jo Adachi, an art teacher at George School who painted a beautiful gouache on paper of the stone arch railroad bridge in Yardley.

“I was thinking about the bridge because I drive by it almost every day and it has always struck me. I like the way the light hits it. It’s a very beautiful sight. And I wanted to capture it,” he said.

The show’s judge - nationally renowned en plein air artist Joseph Gyurcsak - said of the piece, “Beautiful design, great rendering skills, light and atmosphere. It draws the viewer in over and over!”

Adachi also painted a gouache on paper of the Yardley Service Center, which also brought a great deal of praise and has been purchased by the owners of the station, who said they enjoyed watching him work on the piece during the festival.

Adachi received more than $1,000 in cash and prizes, including $500 in cash, a $400 gift certificate from David J. Witchell; a $100 Blick gift certificate; and a $75 gift certificate to Countryside Gallery and Framing,

Al Barker of Bordentown, New Jersey, won second prize and $500 in prizes for his stunning nighttime view of Lake Afton, which he entitled, “Night Lights.”

The lighting, he said, is what inspired him to create the piece, which sold within minutes of the show’s opening. He has been painting for more than 40 years.

“The atmosphere of the night - quiet, calm, tranquility - let’s the viewer meander along the water’s edge, dreamy quality,” said Gyurcsak of the work.

Third prize, valued at $260, went to Helena van Emmerik-Finn for a view of the St. Andrew’s Church Cemetery in Yardley Borough.

“The brilliance of the backlighting and subtle violet shadows let’s the viewer experience the brilliant spring light,” said Gyurcsak. “The design is simple but true, the economy of detail creative. An impressionistic delight!”

In addition, honorable mention awards went to Dorothy Hoeschen for “Between the Canal and the River” and Shirley Mersky for “The Hicks House.” Both received a $100 gift certificate.

The festival was organized by the Artists of Yardley and held in partnership with Experience Yardley, the Newtown Mercantile Association, the Friends of Washington Crossing and Countryside Gallery.

It’s a great event, said Experience Yardley President David Appelbaum, who personally purchased one of the works. “I think that tells you how I feel about this show, which everyone should come out to see.”

“It’s been a tremendous partnership,” added Commonplace Reader owner Liz Young, who hosted a meet and greet with the artists at Buttonwood Park through Experience Yardley. “The Artists are very engaged and very excited. And their works are simply beautiful . It’s a show you have to see if you live in Yardley and Newtown.”

At her meet and greet, she met artist Denise McDaniel of Columbus, NJ, who agreed to paint her building during the en plein air festival. And Young ended up purchasing the piece at the show opening.

Carol Richardson, the president of the Newtown Mercantile Group, called the event “absolutely wonderful” and commended the artists for their talent and their passion.

According to Richardson, the festival brought some excitement to State Street, which has been largely absent since the start of the pandemic. “I’m told people on the street were generous with the Artists, some providing them with lunch or coffee and other things that made their time there more comfortable.”

Bette Sovinee, who helped organize the festival and got the word out, encourages everyone to come out and see the show or to view it online.

“The Art is as unique as each artist. It’s just lovely. The different places they chose, the mediums they selected, it’s all very exciting,” she said. “The quality is just tremendous and it challenged everyone else to rise up.”

Sovinee said AOY chose Yardley and Newtown for the event “because they are inspirational and historic towns and they have so many cute and adorable vistas. And both are in our own backyard.”

The AOY Art Center, based in Lower Makefield, is a community not-for-profit art center celebrating 11 years of promoting the arts and arts education in the community.

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