Solomons Plein Air Festival Culminates Saturday with Paint the Town, Affaire of the Arts

Artwork produced over the Solomons Plein Air Festival support the artists, the festival and six local charities. Art will be featured at the Affaire of the Arts Sept. 23 at Holiday Inn Solomons.

Open Air Painting Extravaganza Supports 6 Local Organizations, Including Dennis Lake Smith Art Scholarship at CSM
Visiting artists from across the nation are busy this week capturing Southern Maryland scenes for the annual Solomons Plein Air Festival that will culminate with an Affaire of the Arts Sept. 23 when patrons can purchase their favorite scenes with proceeds benefiting six community organizations, including the College of Southern Maryland.

Sponsored in part by Dominion Energy and Avian, this year’s open air painting extravaganza hosts a field of 32 artists and supports charities chosen by the committee, including CSM Foundation’s Dennis Lake Smith Art Scholarship, HeartFELT, Patuxent Animal Welfare Society, Safe Harbor, the Solomons Business Association’s 4th of July fireworks and Sophia’s Oasis for Equines.

Artists have spent the week finding scenes throughout Solomons as part of the annual open air painting extravaganza, the Solomons Plein Air Festival.

Working throughout the year to plan the festival, which last year provided $3,000 to the Dennis Lake Smith Art Scholarship at CSM, is a hard-working committee who volunteer countless hours to make this festival one of the premier plein air events in the country, according to Festival Chair and a former CSM Foundation director, Carmen Lee Nance Gambrill. The committee is a combination of business owners, residents, churches, CSM representatives and other interested individuals, making what Gambrill has described as “truly a community effort.”

The festival features artists selected from a national field of applicants who paint throughout Solomons during the week, including a Sunrise Paint Out at the Cove Point Lighthouse and a Sunset Quick Draw along the Solomons Riverwalk when artists have two hours to complete a canvas.

The public may join the artists at “Paint the Town for A Cause,” 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sept. 23 along the Solomons Riverwalk. Community members may spend the morning painting or spend the time wandering the Riverwalk to see the progress of the many paintings. There is no fee to participate and awards for both the juried artists and community artists will be announced at 1 p.m.

The festival artists and their art will be at the Affaire of the Arts, 6 to 9 p.m., Sept. 23 at the Holiday Inn Solomons, 155 Holiday Inn Drive, Solomons. This one-night-only reception provides the opportunity to meet the artists, learn about their inspiration and purchase paintings full of local color and scenes. Cost is $25 per person and tickets can be purchased online at or at the door. Proceeds from the sales support the artists as well as allows the festival committee to continue the event and contribute generously to charitable organizations serving Calvert County.

The Dennis Lake Smith Memorial Art Scholarship was created by Carmen and Matt Gambrill as a tribute to their friend, Dennis Lake Smith who passed away May 1, 2011. Smith is remembered as a saxophone and harmonica player with the Southern Maryland band “Round Midnite” and was learning to play the accordion. He flew with his Solomons friends to New Orleans for JazzFest as a way to share his passion for music. Although he was offered a scholarship to the Julliard School of Music, Smith chose to study art at the Maryland Institute of Art and was the artist who designed the first Cavalier billboard welcoming visitors to Calvert County. Smith graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University later in life, while working full time. He was a software applications engineer with Wyle Labs in California.

For details about the festival, its artists and the events, visit