Artful opportunities: Silverton Arts Association has created avenues for artistic exploration since 1967

August 2012 Posted in Arts, Culture & History, Community

By Kristine ThomasTonya Smithburg holds her original painting that became the poster image for the 2012 Silverton Fine Arts Festival

For Ann Altman, the Silverton Arts Association provides “little pockets of opportunities.”

For Julie Huisman, art has opened a world of creativity, allowing her to push aside her inhibitions and express herself through her pottery while meeting wonderful friends.

For Elyse McGown, the Silverton Arts Association allows her to apply what she has learned, share her love of art with students of all ages and to explore her craft.

For Stacy Higby, being the educational programs director for the Silverton Arts Association has opened her eyes to art in a new way.

A former teacher who specialized in science, Higby said she didn’t have opportunities to explore her creative side.

“I find myself looking at things differently, and looking at different things,” Higby said. “I find myself appreciating the beauty in the things around me, both in nature and in the man-made world. I also find myself thinking about art in a new way, about not only its ability to be aesthetically pleasing, but its ability to surprise, to question, to sooth, to shock, to interpret, and to make us draw our own conclusions.”

The sign on the Borland Gallery in Coolidge – McClaine Park says the Silverton Arts Association was founded in 1967.

Silverton Fine Arts Festival
80 artists displaying a variety of media,
entertainment stage, food court,
wine and beer garden, arts activities

Coolidge – McClaine Park
Coolidge and Charles streets, Silverton
Saturday, Aug. 18, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 19, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Admission is free. Free shuttle and parking at
Robert Frost School, 301 Westfield, and
the Oregon Garden, 879 W. Main St.
Silverton Arts Association, 303 Coolidge St., Silverton
www.silvertonarts.org or 503-873-2480 .

The vision of the Silverton Arts Association has grown from a humble beginning that provided artists opportunities to display their work at local businesses and meet socially.

Its current purpose is “to nurture, exhibit, inform, and promote appreciation and practice of the arts in the greater Silverton area. Through education, the Association will increase public understanding and practice of the arts for present and future generations.”

Sitting at a table at Stone Creek Café in Silverton, Altman and Huisman discussed the last-minute details for the 12th annual Silverton Fine Arts Festival on Aug. 18 and 19 at Coolidge – McClaine Park.

Both women were drawn to Silverton largely due to its thriving arts community. They marvel how the Silverton Arts Association has grown over the years and how much has been added, from its summer art camps to Thursday classes to the Park House Preschool and teaching arts in the Silver Fall School District.

“I think the Silverton Arts Association is mostly about education and teaching people to appreciate the arts,” Huisman said. “The Silverton Fine Arts Festival has evolved into a major fundraiser for the Silverton Arts Association.”

Huisman and Altman invite community members to meander the paths of the park over the weekend and discover the array of art involved, including ceramics, fiber, 2D media, jewelry and photography.

Both Huisman and Altman encourage people to try their hand at any of the several art demonstration booths.

“The festival is in a beautiful park that is conducive to creativity,” Altman said.

Some people may think because they aren’t personally artistic that the art festival isn’t for them. Not so.

“I once thought I wasn’t an artist because I am an accountant,” Huisman said. “Someone asked me why wasn’t I an artist and told me I didn’t have to be one thing.”

Learning how to create pottery has expanded Huisman’s world.

“I now think there is so much more that is possible,” she said. “If I can do this, what else can I do? I think art opens the door to ‘Yes I can.’ ”

Through the Silverton Arts Association’s involvement in community events like Homer Davenport Days, the Community Picnic, Holiday Celebration, Homeschool Day at the Oregon Garden, the Farmer’s Market and more, SAA provides free opportunities for adults and children to participate in many art experiences, Higby said.

In addition, SAA hosts opportunities to view and appreciate art in the Borland Gallery, Silverton City Hall, Silver Falls Library, and Silver Creek Animal Clinic, and opportunities to learn about art and art techniques through an extensive list of classes, camps and workshops for adults and children.

Last year, SAA provided free or low-cost art learning experiences to more than 1,100 elementary students in Silver Falls School District through the Art Partnership Program.

Both McGowan and Altman have taught classes through Art Partnership. Art provides children an opportunity to explore their creativity without the worries of whether something is right or wrong.

“Art is intuitive,” McGowan said. “Art provides people a different way of communicating with their audience.”

She is thankful for the artists who had the foresight to create the Silverton Arts Association, and for all the opportunities being a member has provided.

“The Silverton Arts Association has allowed me to connect to people who are creative and to let them know about my work,” she said. “It’s allowed me to do what I love.”

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