Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Friends of the Smokies to host first “Plein Air in the Park” event and gala this fall

MARYVILLE, Tennessee – Aug. 19, 2022 – Friends of the Smokies, an official nonprofit partner of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is bringing 20 nationally acclaimed artists to the park to paint “en plein air,” an outdoor painting practice and style, throughout various park vistas. The event activities, which include a ticketed gala and art sale, will occur Sept. 26-Oct. 2. The organization will also host a quick draw competition in downtown Maryville, Tennessee, on Oct. 1.

Tickets for the Oct. 1 gala are on sale now at

The Plein Air in the Park event’s art sale will take place on Friday, Sept. 30, at the Clayton Center for the Arts, located on the Maryville College campus. On Saturday, Oct. 1, the artists’ paintings will be judged and go on sale during a ticketed gala. A public sale will follow on Sunday, Oct. 2.

“National parks, including Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Glacier and Zion, are venues for plein air competitions, so it only makes sense that we bring an event like this to the country’s most visited national park,” said Tim Chandler, executive director and CEO of Friends of the Smokies. “We are excited to include the city of Maryville, nestled in the foothills of the Smokies, and provide a unique opportunity to connect the Maryville community with the park.”

The 20 world-renowned artists will be stationed throughout GSMNP that week painting en plein air. Visitors are welcome to come and watch as the artists work. Locations will include popular park sites such as Cades Cove and Elkmont, among others.

The quick draw event will be held at Jack Green Park in downtown Maryville and is open to all artists over the age of 14.

Plein Air in the Smokies is presented by Toyota of Knoxville and Lexus of Knoxville. Funds raised from sponsorships and the sale of the plein air artists’ paintings will benefit Forever Places, a fund created by Friends of the Smokies to support the park’s efforts to preserve and maintain historic cabins, churches, mills and barns throughout the park.

“The Smokies are a crown jewel of the National Park Service, and this week-long event is a wonderful opportunity for spectators to watch the artists paint outdoors and even participate in the quick draw event in Maryville themselves,” Chandler said. “We are looking forward to hosting these renowned artists and welcoming them to the beauty of the Smokies. This is a unique opportunity for our community to celebrate our beloved park as these masters paint en plein air to bring that beauty to canvas.”

About Friends of the Smokies

Friends of the Smokies is an official nonprofit partner of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and has raised over $75 million to support park programs and maintain the Smokies as a crown jewel of the National Park Service. Learn more at