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A picture perfect Pilgrimage

Molly Nichols, right, laughs while fellow Selma Pilgrimage hostesses pose for a photograph in front of the Vaughan-Smitherman  Museum Saturday during the second day of the annual event. (Jay Sowers | Times-Journal)

Molly Nichols, right, laughs while fellow Selma Pilgrimage hostesses pose for a photograph in front of the Vaughan-Smitherman
Museum Saturday during the second day of the annual event. (Jay Sowers | Times-Journal)

Along with the untold number of tourists who came to town this weekend to take in the annual Selma Pilgrimage, the event also attracted 25 plein air painters from around the state.

The artists spread out around Selma to create original paintings of homes, buildings and scenery, which were then put on sale during a wet paint sale Saturday evening at the Selma Art Guild’s Selma Avenue gallery.

Guild member Karen Weir said the talent level of the 25 participating painters was a big reason the Saturday art sale had a large crowd.

“We had people here at four waiting to get in, and we had to have them wait until 4:30 because every artist wasn’t set up yet, and we didn’t think it would be fair to the ones who had yet to put their work on display,” Weir said. “We have sold a lot of paintings this year. We have some really good artists from around the state, and we have a lot of professional artist who have come in to town this weekend, and so we have a different caliber of artists here.”

Weir said she thought the artists’ work this year was more impressive than in years past because they weren’t restricted to painting only structures that were part of the pilgrimage tour.

“We have channeled them to new locations both on and off the pilgrimage trail,” Weir said. “We had a lot of artists in the past who wanted to paint back alleys and beautiful churches, and so we made sure to offer a wider variety this year.”

Plein air painter Gina Brown said the structures aren’t the only reason she returns to Selma every year during pilgrimage.

“This is my fifth year coming here for this event. I have been coming every year since 2010,” Brown said. “I just love this town. I love the history behind it, the ghost stories, the architecture and the people here.”

Pilgrimage organizer Candi Duncan said she had heard from several returning artists that this may have been their favorite year so far.

“I’ve heard the artists have been so pleased with the weather and everything this weekend,” Duncan said. “ And I know they had to limit it to 25 artists, and they could have had 50 artists come.”

Duncan said she was grateful that the artists are donating a portion of their commission to the Selma Art Guild and the Historic Preservation Society.

“We make some money off of the commissions that the artists will graciously give to us,” Duncan said. “And that is something we greatly appreciate.”