By Melissa Wagoner
Award winning neon artist Anne Pinkowski is a fervent believer in the value of art education. When she and her husband, Dave Harris, moved from California to Silverton in 2022, she immediately joined the Silverton Arts Association (SAA), eventually taking on the role of programming director.
“I have a degree in Fine Art,” Pinkowski – who also works in mosaic and stained glass – said. “But I’ve slowly watched this thing that’s so important to me get diluted in schools… and it’s sad because it’s something that I’ve been doing my whole life. It’s a constant. It’s always been the arts and making art and the art community.”
Supportive of the SAA mission – which prominently features art education as a goal – Pinkowski recently joined forces with SAA Board Member Kate Durrant to obtain the grants necessary to increase the SAA’s educational programming in the coming year.
“It’s very important to be sustainable and to offer a living wage to the artists,” Pinkowski said of the need to obtain funding prior to the addition of classes. “We have to be paying artists a living wage to live here.”
So far, Durrant’s grant writing efforts have been successful, with the Oregon Community Foundation contributing $16,000 in educational funding to support overall programming, an upcoming summer camp and the SAA’s Art in Silver Falls Schools program.
“Historically [outreach teacher] Angela McGraw was funded by a grant that we get every year,” Pinkowski said, referencing the $4,000 annual contribution that enabled the SAA to provide art instruction to 965 students in the Silver Falls School District during the last school year.
Now, thanks to increased funding and the addition of another outreach teacher, John Frederick, that number is projected to grow.
“We need to have art here,” Pinkowski said. “We have a Mural Society that makes Silverton, Silverton. But where are they going to learn to paint?”
“It’s part of the heart of the community,” Durrant agreed. “With all the other art presences, the piece that was missing was quality education.”
Silverton Arts Association
To become a member, view the current class and open studio schedule or to apply to become an art instructor visit silvertonarts.org.