Art shift: Silverton Art Association broadens vision for annual festival

May 2021 Posted in Arts, Culture & History, Community

By Melissa Wagoner

Known for many creative activities for all ages, the Silverton Fine Arts Festival – last held in 2019- has been rechristened Silverton Arts Festival

The mission of the Silverton Arts Association has long been to further the arts through education, promotion and exhibition.

“But we’re struggling,” board member Harold Wood admitted. “Everyone is underground in their basement.”

In short, 2020 was a tough year for artists.

“With the pandemic, we lost our stage,” Wood said. “There’s no show-and-tell anymore. I think a lot of artists do what they do to show people, I have value, I’m creative. And then when you put the pandemic into it, that diminishes.”

Already a struggling entity prior to the pandemic, current restrictions – the elimination of gallery shows, classes
and the annual summer art festival in 2020 – nearly dealt the final blow to an organization whose membership has been on a steady decline.

“What’s happened with COVID has been a real opportunity because it exposed where we’re dying,” Wood said.

What is needed, the board recently decided, is a more inclusive view of what art actually is.

“There are lots of ways people are expressing art,” fellow board member Joe Craig pointed out.

In order to further this new premise, the Arts Association has changed the name of the upcoming summer festival – which will be held on Aug. 21 and 22 at Coolidge-McClaine Park – from the Silverton Fine Arts Festival to the Silverton Art Festival.

It’s an important distinction, according to Wood. “We feel the words ‘fine art’ are too confining and needlessly eliminated many of the arts.”

Already making strides toward establishing a vibrant new fellowship, the Arts Association is welcoming tattoo artists, graphic designers, novelists, documentarians and more, in the hope of not only diversifying the art created but the organization as well.

“We’re hoping to attract a broader patronage as well as a broader audience,” Craig said. “And that’s what we’re hoping for with this expanded view of art and our festival. Which is why, despite what’s happened with COVID, we’re energized.”

Along with the change to the festival’s name, the group also plans to revamp its art classes, eventually offering a line of virtual classes thanks to a $13,000 grant.

“We’re trying to find out more about – what is the interest in Silverton?” Craig noted. “Let’s expand it and do what people want to do.”

In the meantime, the Arts Association is focused on the upcoming festival, which will feature artists’ booths, demonstrations, live music and a food court. “It’s juried, quality art,” Craig said. “But we’re not limiting it.”

Artist, vendor and membership applications are all available on the Arts Association’s website at silvertonarts.org, along with more information about vendor qualifications and membership benefits.

“To me it means you’re a part of this art community,” Craig said when asked why more artists should join the association. “You have friends that are willing to
help you and support you. It’s just too important. The organization is established and we don’t want it to stop.”

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