Competition and Festival of Outdoor Painting
on the North Shore of Lake Superior
Competition Exhibit Venue:
Johnson Heritage Post Art Gallery
115 W. Wisconsin St
Grand Marais, MN 55604
Competition Week: September 6-14, 2024
Competition Exhibit: September 13 – October 6, 2024
PAGM Kickoff Painting Trip: August 11-16, 2024
2024 Juror: Brock Larson
The Competition Class registration deadline for 2024 PAGM is May 1, 2024. Subscribe to the PAGM Newsletter for updates and notification when workshops are open for registration.
Get your PAGM Caps and Beanies here, embroidered on demand through Tee-Spring. It takes a couple weeks for delivery.
Plein Air Grand Marais is an annual tradition since 2008 bringing outdoor painters to the North Shore of Lake Superior for a week of painting, learning, competition, and camaraderie. Since 2018, the event has been organized by Outdoor Painters of Minnesota and hosted by the Cook County Historical Society's Johnson Heritage Post Art Gallery.
Plein Air Grand Marais welcomes artists of all ages and abilities. The Competition Class consists of invitational and juried painters, who submit four paintings eligible for awards in an exhibit at Johnson Heritage Post Art Gallery from the opening reception through early October. The Open Class consists of registered artists who may exhibit their best original painting created during the event in a one-night exhibit and reception. A public art activity at Joy & Co. in downtown Grand Marais offers supervised plein air painting for children and adults and a clothesline art exhibit. A 90-minute Quick Paint competition, daily paint-outs, and Artists Socials are open to all registered artists. Any painter in Grand Marais during Competition Week may register to attend Mini-Workshops with professional plein air Competition Artists or the Juror Workshop on the Saturday after the final reception.
Thank you to our community partners and sponsors!
The Cook County Historical Society operates Johnson Heritage Post Art Gallery, which hosts the PAGM Competition Exhibit.
Joy & Co., which sells art materials and gifts from its store in downtown Grand Marais, donates gift certificates for Open Class Quick Paint awards, and supervises a public plein air painting activity in their alley during Competition Week.
Visit Cook County awarded a grant to the Cook County Historical Society to fund promotional materials for the event.
Wet Paint has donated funds for PAGM activities and fine art materials from suppliers for PAGM awards.
Every year, some of our professional plein air painting instructors competing in the event offer a 3-hour workshop during the week of competition. These popular paint-along workshop demos cost just $50 each and are open to painters of all ability levels, helping to make Grand Marais a destination-painting event for artists to learn from each other and get inspired. An individualized Juror Workshop with painting critiques is offered for $100 per person on the final Saturday of the event.
In 2023, paintings must be painted en plein air in Cook County between August 14 and September 22, 2023 to be eligible for exhibits and awards. Watch for paint-outs and other opportunities to paint together beginning in August. During Competition Week, we'll have daily paint-outs at new and classic locations, including YMCA Camp Menogyn, Lutsen, Artists' Point, Sugarloaf Cove, and a nocturnal paint-out in downtown Grand Marais.
Public Art Activities
Plein Air Grand Marais provides opportunities for community members and visitors to try outdoor painting. Berton Boxes are supervised by local sponsor Joy & Co. for anyone to stop by and create a painting for public display in a picket-fence outdoor "gallery."
Plein Air Grand Marais is more than a painting competition: it is an opportunity for artists of all levels to socialize, learn, and make new connections.
Birney Quick Paint
On Thursday afternoon from 3:30-5:00pm, we have a quick paint competition in honor of Birney Quick, a pillar of Grand Marais's rich history of community arts. This exciting spectator sport attracts visitors to watch the timed all-weather event and was featured in an award winning documentary. Paintings are displayed on the rocks at East Bay near Artists Point and juried for awards immediately after the 90 minute event ends. The Birney Quick Paint is open to all registered PAGM artists.
Competition Painting Preview
On Thursday at 11am before the Quick Paint, Competition artists display paintings for presale and enjoy each other's work.
It's a Thursday night tradition: After the Quick Paint, we gather at 7-10pm at the harbor picnic shelter at the Grand Marais Municipal Campground to sing, play music along with our ad-hoc band "The Plain Errors," and celebrate the week's painting achievements.
Open Class Reception
On Wednesday of Competition Week at 5:00pm, the Open Class enjoys a public reception and awards ceremony. Traditionally held outdoors at Harbor Park, an indoor event space in Up Yonder at Harbor Light is being explored for 2024.