CHARLIE HUNTER hunter-studio CHARLIE HUNTER hunter-studio

Calendar: EnTrainAir

Take six of America’s top representational outdoor painters.
Put them on a legendary American passenger train.
Each day, they ride one stop down the line.
They disembark, paint for a day, catch the next day’s train, and move on.

All aboard….

EN TRAIN AIR-1 takes place in April, 2019, along one of America's most storied rail lines, that of the famed “train of the stars,” the Santa Fe SUPER CHIEF. Today Amtrak’s daily train from Chicago to Los Angeles, the SOUTHWEST CHIEF, plies much of that same route. Stopping at thirty intermediate communities and providing the only public transportation to many of them, the CHIEF provides riders a spectacular opportunity to see America up close, at speeds time-competitive with driving, in comfortable, unpretentious surroundings. The historic line parallels the storied Santa Fe trail and Route 66, climbs the steepest grade on the Amtrak system and is the last place in the country where hundred-year-old semaphore signals guide the way. However, this historic route is under threat from Amtrak management in Washington and faces an uncertain future.

The initial En Train Air trip (a play on ‘En Plein Air’, the French term for outdoor painting) focuses on the critically endangered portion of the line - the segment between La Junta, Colorado and Albuquerque, NM. The painters board in Chicago, travel overnight, then stop to paint in La Junta and Trinidad, Colorado, Raton, Las Vegas and Lamy, New Mexico.

Lamy is the Amtrak stop for Santa Fe, one of the largest art markets in the world, where the painters will present a pop-up hosted by McLarry Fine Art, 225 Canyon Road, Santa Fe.

Reboarding the train in Albuquerque, the artists will travel a few hours west, then stop for two days as the guests of La Posada in Winslow, Arizona. They will paint on the La Posada grounds, in a public event, on the afternoon of Easter Sunday. From there they will continue by rail to the CHIEF’s terminus of Los Angeles, then connecting to Amtrak’s COAST STARLIGHT for the trip up the coast to the Bay Area and the eighth annual Plein Air Convention and Expo. At the Expo, En Train Air 1 will be the subject of a slideshow and panel discussion.

This project celebrates a little-observed, but crucial aspect of the American experience - the coming and going of the daily train, linking small towns to the nation at large. Should this trip prove successful, En Train Air-1 will serve as a prototype for further journeys.

Underwriting for ETA-1 is provided by:
THE PLAZA HOTEL, Las Vegas, New Mexico
LA POSADA, Winslow, Arizona



Aimee Erikson - Erickson is an oil painter living in Portland, Oregon. Trained as an illustrator, Erickson has developed a pictorial voice grounded in traditional realism, informed by the principles of design, and inspired by nature and human experience. She holds a BFA in Visual Communication Design, and has also studied with prominent representational painters including Sherrie McGraw, David Leffel, Burton Silverman, Joseph Paquet, William Park, Stephen Hayes, and Ray Roberts. Aimee is the first woman artist to paint an Oregon gubernatorial portrait, that of Barbara Roberts in 1997. Erickson teaches studio and plein-air painting, drawing, and color theory locally and at venues nationwide. Her work has been awarded top prizes in many national competitions, including Oil Painters of America, American Women Artists, the Portrait Society of America, and multiple plein air competitions.
  • 2018 American Impressionist Society Small Works Showcase
  • 2018 "Nocturnes" solo showcase, Meyer Vogl Gallery
  • 2018 Oil Painters of America Salon Show

Charlie Hunter - Hunter has achieved national recognition for his distinctive, limited-palette renderings of austere American landscapes. While representational, Hunter’s work reflects a sophisticated design aesthetic honed from years designing graphics for acts as diverse as The Clash, U2, REM and the Jerry Garcia Band. Hunter has a lifelong love of rail travel and created and oversees the Roots on the Rails music trains, operating since 2003. “I’m interested in art that is simultaneously subjective and journalistic,” he says. “And the En Train Air project ties some very interesting strands of American DNA together in a new way.” Hunter has a degree in Art from Yale University and lives and works in Bellows Falls, Vermont, not far from his ancestral home. He is the recipient of numerous plein air painting awards.
  • 2018 American Masters Show, Salamagundi Club, NYC 2018, 2016, 2015
  • 2016 Curator, Boxcars, Rail Imagery in Contemporary Realism
  • 2018 First place/Award of Excellence Door County, WI Plein Air Invitational, En Plein Air Texas, Mountain Maryland (2017, 2016), Laguna Plein Air Invitational (2016).

Shelby Keefe - Wisconsin artist Shelby Keefe paints in a bold, realistic style. In 2005, after a career in graphic design, she became a full-time painter traveling the country participating in plein air competitions, art festivals and teaching workshops. Her distinctive style has received national notice, and in recent years her paintings have graced the covers of both Southwest Art and Plein Air Magazines. A consistent award winner and in-demand teacher, Keefe has been invited to participate in museum exhibitions, has published an instructional video, and serves as faculty for the annual Plein Air Convention and Expo. She is a Signature Member of Oil Painters of America, American Impressionist Society, and American Women Artists. “I am passionate about drawing and depicting my subjects with honesty as well as expressiveness—striving to create a fresh perspective to the recognizable world without being too predictable or mundane."
  • Award of Distinction, 19th Annual American Impressionist Society National Exhibition, 2018
  • Grand Prize Winner, EnPlein Air Texas, 2015
  • PleinAir Magazine Salon Competition Grand Prize Winner, 2013

Larry Moore - Moore has a diverse background as a visual communicator; from advertising and design, through several decades as a top illustrator, thence into plein air and fine art. "I’ve made kind of an interesting discovery," he says. "The creative process behind all of these approaches is pretty much the same. As an instructor, I am taking my years of acquired knowledge from illustration, graphic design, location painting, teaching critical thinking and the aforementioned topics and morphing them together in my work and in what I teach. I give people a way to access the creative spirit and broaden not just the way they paint but the way they think and play.” The initial idea for En Train Air rests with Mr. Moore.
  • 1995-2005 Society of Illustrators, Gold medal, NY annual exhibit
  • 1999-2008 Communication Arts Illustration Annuals
  • Luerzers Archive Top 200 illustrators worldwide

Randall Sexton - Randy Sexton is known for the color and expressive brushwork in his oil paintings of the vernacular. Raised in rural Connecticut, Sexton moved to San Francisco in 1980 where he taught classes in drawing, painting, and composition at the San Francisco Academy of Art until 2005. He currently teaches at Pixar Studios in Emeryville, CA and leads private workshops around the country.  "I try to combine traditional methods of painting with a sense of myself living in the present," says Sexton. "Nature has proven to be the most demanding and inspiring teacher, so I work from life as often as possible and try to remain open to new ideas and new approaches. Each painting is a simple sentence in an ongoing story that will take a lifetime to unfold." Sexton has been featured in various national journals including American Artist, Southwest Art, Plein Air and Workshop. He has been a member of the California Art Club, The Laguna Beach Plein Air Painters Association, “The Outsiders”, a group of artists loosely connected to “The Society of Six” and The Baywood Artists Group, committed to working on environmentally sensitive projects.
  • Artist's Choice, Napa, CA (Napa Valley Land Trust Art Festival)
  • Artist's Choice, Laguna, CA Plein Air
  • Artist's Choice, Telluride, CO Plein Air

Jason Sacran - Arkansas resident Jason Sacran has won numerous awards from arts organizations including Oil Painters of America and the American Impressionists Society. Sacran has also been the subject of features in Southwest Art, International Artist, Artist Magazine, and PleinAir Magazine. “I am a contemporary representationalist, working primarily outdoors. I paint what catches my interest - an orchestration of shapes, color contrast, light and shadow patterns, a mood or atmosphere, a subject I have never tried, or a subject I enjoy. I am drawn to paint places and things that say something about the day and time I live in now. Although my work is not necessarily subject driven, I find myself painting the overlooked and simultaneously familiar aspects of everyday life - scenes we pass by but rarely take the time to fully consider.”
  • Grand Prize Winner –Maui Plein Air Invitational
  • Grand Prize Winner –En Plein Air Texas Plein Air Invitational
  • Grand Prize Winner – 2015 Plein Air Easton juried Invitational
  • Best of Show & Artists Choice – 2015 Plein Air Rockies juried Invitational


Saturday, April 13 - depart CHICAGO 2:50 pm (CT) - The artists board Train #3, The SOUTHWEST CHIEF, at Chicago Union Station. Cross Mississippi River at Ft. Madison, IA. Overnight on board.

Sunday, April 14 - arrive LA JUNTA, CO 7:49 am (MT) - "La Junta" means "The Junction" in Spanish, and is where the east/west rail line meets the line north to Pueblo and Denver. This is high plains country. Small downtown. April avg. high/low 65/34, 1.14” precip., 6010 elev.

Monday, April 15 - 
depart LAJ 8:04 am, arrive TRINIDAD, CO 9:24 am - Train 1 hour and twenty minutes to Trinidad, CO. Ride is across the high plains. Gradually, the snow-covered peaks of the southern Rockies become visible to the north. Town is located at base of Raton Pass. Mitchell Museum of Western Art, fabulous gilded-age small-town architecture. April avg. high/low 62/33, 1.3” precip., 6680 elev.

Tuesday, April 16 - depart TRI 9:24 am, arrive RATON, NM 10:30 am - A brief but spectacular ride over Raton Pass to the small town of Raton. At 3.5%, this is the steepest grade on the Amtrak system, past the Wooton Ranch, paralleling I-25 to the south, the old Santa Fe Trail visible to the north. April avg. high/low 62/33, 1.3” precip., 6680 elev.

Wednesday, April 17
 - depart RAT 10:30 am, arrive LAS VEGAS, NM 12:12 pmA ride across The Big Empty to Las Vegas, NM, a town that is on the upswing. Home to the long-dormant La Casteneda, located next to the station and one of the original Harvey Houses along the Santa Fe tracks, now being renovated. Artist rooms provided courtesy of the Plaza Hotel. April avg. high/low 63/33, .98” precip., 6424 elev.

Thursday, April 18
 - depart LSV 12:12 pm, arrive LAMY, NM 1:58 pmA gorgeous hour-and-a-half-long ride, over the amazing engineering of the S-curves around Rowe, NM, past Pecos Monument, over Glorieta Pass (site of the westernmost battle of the Civil War) and through the tiny-but-serpentine Apache Canyon to Lamy. Lamy is virtually a ghost town, with a beautiful small-town station, the Santa Fe Southern rail line, and a row of three shops, all dormant (but one, the Legal Tender Saloon), will be reopening soon. April avg. high/low 65/32, .79” precip., 6483 elev.

Friday, April 19 - 5:00-7:00 pm - Pop-up Show,
McLarry Fine Art, 225 Canyon Rd., Santa Fe, 505-988-1161.

Saturday, April 20 -
depart ALBUQUERQUE, NM 4:19 pm, arrive WINSLOW, AZ 7:30 pm (MST). Departing the Duke City, we cross the Rio Grande and head west for 4+ hours, through vast red rock country and forbidding lava fields. Passing through the Indian-trading-center of Gallup, NM, we arrive at La Posada in Winslow as night falls. 

- Public is welcome to watch the artists paint the grounds of La Posada and Museum from 1-4 pm, then artworks on display/sale at Winslow Art/Trust Museum adjacent to La Posada from 4-8 pm. Artist rooms courtesy of La Posada. April avg. high/low 72/37, .28” precip., 4850 elev.

Monday, April 22 - depart Winslow 7:30 pm
, riding overnight paralleling Route 66 through Flagstaff, Kingman, Needes, Victorville, and descend Cajon Pass in early morning into the Los Angeles basin.

Tuesday, April 23 - arrive
Los Angeles Union Station 8:00 am; depart 10:10 am on The Coast Starlight for a stunning ride up the California Coast through miles of roadless area, turning inland at San Luis Obispo, through the rich agricultural area near Salinas, arriving in the Bay Area in the evening.

Friday, April 26 - Panel discussion about En Train Air at Plein Air Convention and Expo in San Francisco, 1 to 2:10 pm.


Like most of Amtrak’s western long-distance trains, the SOUTHWEST CHIEF features sleeping cars, coaches, full dining car, an observation-lounge and checked baggage service, and operates at or near capacity for much of the year.

Current Amtrak management, however, sees the future of passenger rail in state-supported services between major cities in corridors of 400 miles or less, and gives little consideration to Amtrak’s social contract, legislative mandate to serve a national network, and important role connecting so-called ‘flyover country’ to the rest of the nation. In August, 2018, Amtrak proposed discontinuing the middle segment of the train and substitute a 500-mile “bus bridge” between either Dodge City, KS or La Junta, Colorado and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Overnight coach-only stub trains, running from Chicago to Dodge City/La Junta and Los Angeles to Albuquerque, would connect to the bus segment (it bears noting that this substitution would trigger a provision in Federal law requiring the affected states to pay for the service, rather than Amtrak having to shoulder the costs).

During the summer of 2018, significant pushback occurred from citizens' groups, communities along the line and Congressional delegations of the affected states. A bipartisan, bicameral group of federal lawmakers responded to Amtrak’s refusal to pay its promised $3 million match to unlock a $16 million TIGER IX grant. The grant, tentatively awarded to Colfax County, New Mexico by the USDOT for the SOUTHWEST CHIEF was intended to fund track repairs in New Mexico. Lawmakers confronted Amtrak Executive Management and have proposed legislation that would provide an additional $50 million for track repairs while forcing Amtrak to provide its promised match. In response, Amtrak has pledged to continue running the CHIEF through August 2019, although the train’s future remains very much in doubt.

It is the hope of the ETA artists that this journey will help bring attention to the need for a truly national rail system, and that the SOUTHWEST CHIEF will keep rolling for many years to come.

"SAVE THE SOUTHWEST CHIEF" SHIRTS - Show your support for preserving America's long-distance passenger trains. 100% of proceeds go towards efforts to keep our national network rolling.  

If you are interested in efforts to expand and grow America's national rail passenger network, we urge you to join the following organizations:
 Friends of the Southwest Chief/Passenger Rail Kansas, Evan Stair, Chair. 
 Colorado Rail Passengers Association
Rail Passengers Association (formerly the National Association of Railroad Passengers)

Image at top ©Charlie Hunter, "Santa Fe Station," 2010