The Owensboro Museum of Fine Art will be hosting the 12th Annual Bronze Buffalo Festival and Paintout, sponsored by Swedish Match and Atmos Energy Company September 26 through 28. The Bronze Buffalo Festival and Paintout is an annual event to commemorate the origins of Owensboro.
“Owensboro was founded by early settlers following a buffalo trail to the banks of the Ohio, where they established the first settlement that later became Owensboro,” said Mary Bryan Hood, founding director of the Owensboro Fine Art Museum.
The festival’s inaugural year was when OMFA installed the bronze buffalo statues located in OMFA’s Ryan Sculpture Park. These statues, “Into the Wild” and “Meadowlands Pair,” were created by American wildlife sculptor T. D. Kelsey and were commissioned to celebrate Owensboro’s origins. The museum continues to hold the event each year to continue in the spirit of celebrating Owensboro’s rich history.
Through the festival, OMFA invites artists from Kentucky and surrounding states to spend three days in Owensboro, during which the artists paint various scenes representative of Owensboro’s identity.
“The artists document Owensboro, graphically, as it appears each year,” she said. “The artists paint virtually any historical site, business, industry, park or cultural activity that is relevant to Owensboro and Daviess County. They enter the completed paintings in the final competition, which occurs on the last day of the event. At the end of the event, it is remarkable to see so many paintings of what we all know as our hometown.“
The festival is an “en plein air” event, which means artists must paint outdoors exclusively. While most participants are watercolorists, artists using other mediums participate as well.
“The en plein air movement began with the French impressionists who painted quickly outside, to capture a mood, light, a certain time of day, a feeling, or an emotion,” Hood said.
The works must be completed by the three-day time period. Canvases are stamped at the beginning event, ensuring that artists do not submit a previous work, as only stamped canvases are allowed in the exhibition.
The festival concludes with a one night gala and exhibition where the winner of the festival is awarded with $5,000 in merit and purchase awards. The gala includes entertainment and an auction where patrons can bid on art and jewelry, among other treasures. This event brings awareness to Owensboro’s origins, but also acts as a fundraiser for the museum and a tourism event for the city itself, attracting artists nationwide.
OMFA encourages visitors to attend both the exhibition and gala. Admission is free, but $3 donations are encouraged for adults and $2 for children. Artists interested in registering may enter the Buffalo Paintout by completing the registration form found on the museum’s website or by calling 270-685-3181. The registration fee is $20 prior to September 15 and $35 after that date.