Solomons Plein Air Festival Provides $3,000 for Dennis Lake Smith Art Scholarship at CSM

Proceeds from the 2016 Solomons Plein Air Festival (SPAF) presented by Avian benefited six community organizations

While visiting artists from across the nation were busy capturing Southern Maryland scenes during this fall's week-long Solomons Plein Air Festival presented by Avian, patrons were busy buying their favorite scenes with proceeds benefiting six community organizations, including $3,000 presented to the College of Southern Maryland Foundation for the Dennis Lake Smith Art Scholarship.

“We are very proud of the growing success of our Solomons Plein Air Festival. The art sales this year almost doubled, which allowed us to contribute $3,000 each to six worthy nonprofits for a total of $18,000,” said Solomons Plein Air Festival Chair Carmen Nance Gambrill. “This was only accomplished due to the hard-working committee who volunteered countless hours to make this festival one of the premier plein air events in the country. The committee was a combination of business owners, residents, churches and other interested individuals, so it truly was a community effort.”

In addition to CSM, five other charities were chosen for support by the Solomons Plein Air Festival committee — HeartFELT, Orphaned Wildlife Rescue Center, Patuxent Animal Welfare Society, the Solomons Business Association's 4th of July fireworks and Sophia's Oasis for Equines.

The festival featured artists selected from a national field of 100 artist applicants who painted throughout Solomons during the week-long festival presented by Avian. The event also included a “Sunset Quick Draw” along the Solomons Riverwalk when artists had two hours to complete a canvas, and “Paint the Town for A Cause” for community members to join the artists for a morning of painting.

“This year's competition was composed of 33 juried artists chosen from some of the best plein air artists in the world. Thanks to our sponsors and supporters, we were able to offer significant prize money which, along with unsurpassed hospitality of the town of Solomons, keeps the artists applying each year. In fact, we had one award-winning artist say to the staff at Plein Air Magazine, 'I don't care whether I am accepted or not. I am going to Solomons next year!',” Gambrill said.

“This was my first year working the Solomons Plein Air Fest and it was incredible,” said CSM Foundation First Vice Chair Nancy Hempstead. “These talented artists come from all over the country and embrace the community and the spirit of giving that is such a big part of the festival. And the community embraces the artists for a week of activities to raise funds that truly make an impact to CSM and its students. Very rewarding indeed!”

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 program sponsors, visit

The CSM Foundation, established in 1970, is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization that promotes academic excellence, growth, progress and the general welfare of CSM by raising and managing funds, and providing support to strengthen and develop the college and its objectives. The foundation has launched its “Make An Impact” campaign, a transformative three-year outreach and fundraising effort that will culminate in 2018 with the college's 60th anniversary. “Make Your Impact: Invest Today to Transform Tomorrow” addresses access, affordability and achievement by ensuring that degree programs and career training are available to everyone through scholarships, that high caliber programs, facilities and technology are accessible, and that strategic partnerships and innovation are created and sustained in the community. This past year the CSM Foundation awarded more than $855,000 in scholarships and funding for new programs, technology and equipment. For information on scholarships at CSM, visit