By Rebecca Jones

Four different Laurel entities are teaming up to present a day of family fun and unity for the community on Saturday, May 21. “One Laurel, One Day” will feature “Paint Laurel” by Reimagine Laurel, “Art in the Park,” hosted by the Laurel School District, “Gather at the Table,” presented by the Laurel Public Library; and New Zion UM Church will once again bring to the community, “Balling for God.” 

Ed Lewandowski, organizer of the “en plein air” painting event, said it didn’t matter if you were an amateur or accomplished painter, or which medium is used. 

Shown is a piece painted by Ed Lewandowski at a “en plein air” event in Dover. Lewandowski is the organizer of the “Paint Laurel” event. Submitted photo

“We are celebrating Laurel, and the beauty of this historic town. We’re asking artists to come share that beauty with others,” he said.

Lewandowski explained what is expected of the artists: “We do ask for artists to pay a $10 registration fee. With that fee, you will be registered for prizes, receive a map of areas to paint in Laurel, a chance to sell your painting the day of the celebration, along with a meal for all artists.” 

He talked about the appeal of this style of painting which is “spreading like wildfire.” 

“En plein air painting consists of artists painting what is in front of them, in the moment. You’ll have to capture the lighting in the moment, which can change as the time passes.” 

He has participated in “en plein air” painting events himself – a hobby he took up during the pandemic.

Artists will not be allowed to bring other works of art the day of Paint Laurel. Only works created that day will be available for purchase. 

“If someone purchases a piece of art the day of Paint Laurel, the transaction is solely between artist and buyer,” Lewandowski said. “Otherwise, unsold pieces of art painted that day will be displayed at the Laurel Library.”

A total of $800 in cash awards will also be awarded to those participating in this first-ever event in Laurel. Three prizes of $200 each will be awarded for: “One Laurel” – which best portrays Laurel’s unique community pride or spirit; “Grand Old Laurel” – which best depicts Laurel’s rich history and tradition; and “Great Things Come Naturally” – which best features Laurel’s nature-based assets. Two other awards consisting of $100 each will be: “Artists’ Choice”, and “People’s Choice.” Paint Laurel is brought to the community through support from University of Delaware, Laurel Historical Society, Laurel Redevelopment Corporation and The Delaware Division of the Arts. 

Lewandowski said that even though there will be an artist check-in and barbecue the night before, the en plein air event itself doesn’t begin until 7 a.m., on Saturday the 21st. Then, beginning at 11 a.m., painters must stop painting and ready their finished work for display by 11:30 a.m. Public viewing of the finished pieces will commence; members of the public, as well as fellow artists will choose their favorites, to be announced at the awards ceremony. Paint Laurel will then end at 1:30 p.m.

Interested parties are asked to find out more on www.reimaginelaurel.net, and follow the directions in the “Paint Delaware” section or find “Paint Laurel Plein Air” in Eventbrite and sign up there a week before the event.

Art will be prevalent throughout Janosik Park in more ways than one, because the Laurel School District will present “Art in the Park” from 10 a.m. till noon. That time is billed as a family event, with “free art activities for youth and families.” Youth will be encouraged to express themselves using various artistic mediums. 

Following the displays of plein air art and “Art in the Park,” the Laurel Library will offer a free community meal from noon till 1 p.m. at Janosik Park. Made possible by a grant for small and rural communities, Wenona Phillips of the Laurel Public Library is greatly looking forward to spending time with people from all walks of life. 

“We’re encouraging people to share stories with one another, share concerns and aspirations. We’re so excited to be able to do this, after everything occurring with the pandemic, to get people out and together, again,” she said.

Phillips and Lewandowski each made a point to state that the One Laurel, One Day was a unified effort to bring something special to the entire community of Laurel. “Between the whole group of us working together, we hope to potentially do this every year,” Phillips added. “Multiple events make it a fun, family day. There’s always something exciting to do in our community.”

An event that has continued to be community oriented and driven to promote unity in the community during One Day, One Laurel will be “Balling for God,” held at Dunbar Courts in Laurel. Presented by New Zion U.M. Church, this part of the event will turn into a “fun-filled basketball tournament and community block party.” Not only will there be music, but this party will feature cornhole, TikTok fun, games, food, and more.

Rain date for Paint Laurel will be May 22. The rain date for Gather at the Table is listed as June 11, while the rain date for Balling for God will be May 28.