In absolutely pitch-perfect Ocean City beach weather with puffs of white cumulus clouds surfing across a clear blue summer sky, more than 50 artists from five states and the District of Columbia painted their hearts out and captured more than one admirer, not to mention some nice cash prizes, in the Art League of Ocean City’s annual outside (“en plein air”) painting event, this past weekend.  Working on the beach, commercial harbor, marshlands, bays and inlet, men and women of all ages created works of natural beauty in oils, acrylics, watercolor, pastels, and pen and ink.

Coming back to home base at the Ocean City Center for the Arts on Saturday afternoon from two days in the field, participants excitedly framed up their work and all was displayed for Saturday night’s judging and reception.  A large appreciative audience enjoyed wine while strolling both levels of exhibition space at the Arts Center on 94th Street and made some of their own judgments about “Best in Show” but ultimately that job fell officially to Michel Demanche, Assistant Professor of Art at UMES, who explained her criteria for evaluating the works and announced the winners.

First place in the cash prize category went to Kathy Gibson of Ocean Pines for her painting, “Queue to Assateague,” descriptive of the iconic sycamore trees that grace Route 611, the road to Assateague. Demanche said the painting “compelled me to come back over and over to look at it,” and, asking the crowd for forgiving her language, furthered that it “is a hell of a painting.”

Second place was won by Barbara Stepura of White Plains, MD, for the quality of light in her painting of a scene in Northside Park.

Third prize went to Ocean City local Judy Benton for her “unique use of subject matter” in “Fishing Boat 5308.”

Honorable Mentions went to Stewart Emmerich of Perry Hall, MD, for “Stinky Beach House”; Debra Howard of Crisfield for her Assateague ponies painting; and New Castle, DE, resident Dennis Young’s Boardwalk scene.

The next day on Sunday morning, 22 artists gathered downtown for the Quick Draw competition setting up easels along the boards and side streets around South Division Street.  Participants had two hours to create a timed masterpiece for judging by Salisbury artist Angela Herbert-Hodges. Cash prizes were awarded in collaboration with the Art League by Ocean City Development Corporation’s Executive Director Glenn Irwin, AICP.  

Winners were: First place $300 – Jim Rehak for his oil painting of the inlet, “Jetty Swell”; second prize $150 – David Diaz of Annapolis for his colorful beach painting, “’brella Time”; and third place $50 – Dennis Young, participating in his eighth Plein Air event this year, for his pastel of the downtown rides and fun park called, “Amusements.”

Selected work from the event will remain on display in the Galleria at the Ocean City Center for the Arts at 94th St. through August. For more information about the paintings or the artists visit, call 410-524-9433 or email:

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Allison Menke of Washington, DC, enjoys conversation with fellow artist Matt Fenton of Baltimore at the Plein Air reception for participating artists Saturday night at the Ocean City Center for the Arts.

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Art League of Ocean City board member Jamie Albright chats with ALOC volunteer Ruthie Haynes at the Plein Air Reception.

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Art and interesting conversation engaged these five artists at the Art League Plein Air Reception Saturday night. (L-R): Mick Williams (New Market, MD); David Diaz (Annapolis); Bruno Baran (Nottingham, MD); and father and son Stewart Emmerich (Perry Hall) and John Emmerich (Dundalk).

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Some of the Plein Air winners in the “Artists Paint OC” event stand by first-prize oil painting, “Queue to Assateague,” by Ocean Pines resident Kathy Gibson. (L-R): Stewart Emmerich (Honorable Mention, Perry Hall); Barbara Stepura (Second Place, White Plains, MD); Gibson; and judge of event Michel Demanche, University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

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Posing for a photo outside the Ocean City Center for the Arts are some of the 2014 “Artists Paint OC” participants. (L-R): Stewart Emmerich (Honorable Mention); judge of event Michel Demanche; First Prize winner Kathy Gibson; Art League vice president Emily Schwab; and Second Place winner Barbara Stepura.

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Gathering outside the Ocean City Center for the Arts admiring a beautiful sunset after the Plein Air arts awards presentation last Saturday evening are judge of the event Michel Demanche, Art League of Ocean City vice president Emily Schwab, First Prize winner Kathy Gibson and Second Prize winner Barbara Stepura.

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Artist Sue Stefanski of Havertown, PA, found a shady spot to paint on Somerset Avenue in last Sunday’s Quick Draw competition.  Observing her methods were visitors from Easton, Pam LeCompte and Kathy Hanna, Director of Marketing, Communications & Special Events for the Talbot County Chamber of Commerce.

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Surrounded by the tools of her trade is artist Vica Paramonova of Bethany Beach who concentrates on her unique pen and ink portrayal of the Sunset Plaza street scene.

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Randy Graham of Westchester, PA, participated in last Sunday’s Quick Draw competition creating an oil painting in two hours of the Lifesaving Station at the boardwalk and inlet area.