Springfield-area artists form Mad River Art League, plan Art Prowl

A newly-formed artist group is making its presence felt this month with a partnership with local businesses and its first event on Saturday.

The Mad River Art League (MRAL) is a Springfield-based collective of about 40 area artists who have come together to support each other’s efforts, seek opportunities and outlets for their work. The first Art Prowl is going on in Springfield through Dec. 31 at 18 local businesses that have the works of MRAL artists for sale.

On Saturday, the first Holiday Plein Air Quick Draw will be at Mother Stewart’s Brewing Co., along with the Springfield area Sketchers. Several artists will paint live on site and compete for three top prizes, and the public can choose a people’s choice award at Mother’s Holiday Market, which opens at 11 a.m.

Ted Vander Roest speculated about a town the size of Springfield not having an art league when several nearby smaller ones did. He spoke with Springfield Museum of Art executive officials several years ago on the prospect, but it was stalled somewhat by circumstances including the pandemic.

Last year he teamed with local artist Robine Wright to start the league, with monthly meetings at the Museum of Art.

“There are a lot of artists in the area. We worked with Jessimi Jones at the Museum of Art, helped with the Members’ Show and started to build traction. It’s going to be like a community,” Vander Roest said.

The MRAL is open to painters, sculptors, potters and artists of any skill level to get together to share with others, to critique and get advice, do workshops and learn from each other and help with marketing their work.

It is not limited to just Clark County, as the Mad River name reflects.

“It’s been so beautiful to watch this form, with so many artists,” said Wright, whose work has been displayed in the area for several years.

Businesses partnering with MRAL for the Art Prowl are Auto Zone; Champion City; COHatch; Courtyard by Marriott; Duo Home; Edward Jones; Firefly Boutique; Frame Haven; Huntington Bank; Key Bank; Le Torte Dolci; Mercy Health; Park National Bank; Pretzelmaker; Salato Deli; Sip & Dipity; Stella Bleu; Un Mundo Café.

Any works sold will share 20 percent of the profits with the business it was sold at to donate to their preferred charity. Vander Roest said the goal is to make the Art Prowl an annual event.

“All of the businesses have been so excited to work on this,” Wright said. “We are glad to be connecting businesses.”

The Plein Air Society is a group of artists who do their art outdoors. Some attending the event at Mother Stewart’s may work outside, weather depending, and the works will be available, 12:30-3 p.m.

This is just the beginning. Vander Roest said future plans include workshops, working with live models and having a presence at local events, such as possibly the Summer Arts Festival.

For more information about the MRAL, go to its Facebook groups page.

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