About the Chestnut Group
The Chestnut Group began in 2001 when a small group of local artists, who met during painting classes at Cheekwood and a few other locales, came together with a shared concern for the wild and open spaces remaining in Middle Tennessee. A similar group in California, The Oak Group, had joined forces as artists to raise funds to preserve a beautiful piece of property in their native state. The Tennessee artists had a vision that they too could band together to save the land.
The Chestnut Group held their first fundraiser in partnership with The Nature Conservancy. The effort met with great success and enthusiasm within the community, and thus, this small group of artists vowed to continue their mission. The few artists became a few more and gathered a following, and public interest in their plein air style began to grow. Word got out about their generous contributions through the sale of their art and soon, the Chestnuts had formed new partnerships with other land conservation agencies. More funds were raised and land was saved by the acres. It was the perfect fit: artists who loved the land, partners who were working to protect it, and collectors who wanted to help and were able to take home a memory of that land.
Today, The Chestnut Group is over 200 members strong. The artists come from north and south, east and west to paint and to make a formidable contribution, artistically and environmentally. Most of the original founders are still a vital part of The Chestnut Group. Every year, the event roster grows as the organization broadens its reach and membership. In recent years, the group has expanded its mission to include protecting historic sites and structures, such as Glen Leven Farm. We have partnered with The Land Trust for Tennessee, Cheekwood Botanical Garden, Belle Meade Plantation, Friends of Radnor Lake, Cumberland River Compact, The Battle of Franklin Trust, Harpeth River Watershed Association, The Nature Conservancy of Tennessee, and The Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation. Many of the events in which we participate are open to the public.
Our craft and our mission go hand in hand. To paint en plein air—originally a French term—means to paint outdoors. We paint what we see, what we love, and what we are passionate about preserving. You’ll find us painting on farms in the steamy summer heat, scaling frozen ground to catch the white mist of a deeply chilled winter waterfall, gazing toward blazing fall scenery across a glass-smooth lake, or perhaps recording the architecture of a majestic Southern veranda.
Are you an artist who would like to join us in our mission? Membership to The Chestnut Group is non-juried and is open to any artist who enjoys painting in plein air. Membership dues are $65 annually and members enjoy many benefits of membership including invitations to painting locations not open to the general public, as well as member only learning opportunities. In addition, you’ll get advance notice of many workshops and and art-related educational sessions. Our members greatly enjoy the comradery shared among the artists and “in the field” informal learning that occurs with every paint outing.
If your organization is interested in partnering with us, please send an inquiry to Rachel Blair
We invite you to visit our members section and to enjoy perusing the gallery of work represented there.
Rachel Blair, Executive Director/ Send Rachel an Email
Rebecca Wells Demaree, President/ Send Rebecca an Email
Renee Bates, Vice President / Send Renee an Email
Jay Holobach, Media Relations Send Jay an Email