County arts scene flourishing

Painters, sculptors, dance and music are thriving despite economyThe Arts

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter

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Portrait

For more information on life in Clark County, visit www.columbian.com/portrait.

Galleries in Clark County have come and gone over the eight years that Elizabeth Steinbaugh has owned Aurora, the oldest art venue in downtown Vancouver, but the arts scene is stronger than ever, she said.

A poor economy has seen the number of galleries in downtown shrink from nine in 2010 to five in 2011. But those that remain have a host of prominent Southwest Washington artists to pick from.

“You really don’t know how many artists live in an area until you open a gallery,” Steinbaugh said. “I was shocked at how many we have. There are literally hundreds in Southwest Washington.”

Bev Jozwiak and Vicki Nelson, watercolor artists who grew up here and still live in the county, are probably the best know of the bunch. They have appeared in magazines and have gained national recognition for their work, Steinbaugh said.

Salmon Creek ceramic artist Michael Metz, a retired professional tennis player, is also gaining notoriety for his crystalline-glazed classical forms and organic sculptures.

“This area is becoming especially well known for our painters and potters,” Steinbaugh said.

Galleries are just the tip of the colorfully decorated iceberg when it comes to local arts, said Lee Rafferty, executive director of the Vancouver Downtown Association.

Dance has also grown increasingly prominent with the success of the Columbia Dance Studio and Riverside Performing Arts, she said.

“They’ve had great success with students going on and having careers as professional dancers,” Rafferty said.

Theater productions and symphony music are also very popular, with a variety of options to choose from.

And the Downtown Association and other groups have tried to bolster the scene with events such as the First Friday Art Walk — a free walking tour of galleries and other downtown art venues held the first Friday of each month.

“Art is one of the most important things that a community can do to make itself unique,” Rafferty said. “It beckons people on and tells them what we value as a community.”Arts organizations, businesses and events in Clark County run the gamut in size and focus.

Here’s a sampling of what the local arts scene has to offer:

Alcove Art Gallery: http://alcoveartgallery.com

Angst Gallery: http://angstgallery.com

Archer Gallery at Clark College: http://clark.edu/archergallery

Art on the Boulevard: http://artontheboulevard.org

Aurora Gallery: http://auroragalleryonline.com

Avalon Art Gallery and Studio: http://avalongalleryandstudio.com

Battle Ground Art Alliance: http://bgartalliance.com/

Bravo! Vancouver: http://bravoconcerts.com

Christian Youth Theater Vancouver/Portland: http://cytvanport.org

Clark College Orchestra: www.clark.edu/news_events/MusicDepartmentConcerts.php

Clark College Theatre: clark.edu/academics/programs/humanities/theatre/season.php

Columbia Dance: http://columbiadance.org

Columbia Gorge International Film Festival (put on by ANGAELICA): http://washougalfilmfest.org

Firehouse Glass: http://firehouseglass.com

Gallery 360: http://gallery360.org

Junior Symphony of Vancouver: http://oregonchamberplayers.org/jsv.html

Love Street Playhouse: http://lovestreetplayhouse.com

Magenta Theater: http://magentatheater.com

Metropolitan Performing Arts Academy: http://metropaa.org

The New Blue Parrot Productions: http://newblueparrot.com or http://on.fb.me/vZCfob.

Niche Wine & Art: http://www.nichewinebar.com or http://facebook.com/nichewineandart

North Bank Artists Gallery: http://northbankartistsgallery.com

Northwest Classical Ballet: http://nwclassicalballet.com

Old Liberty Theater: http://oldlibertytheater.com

Ridgefield Art Association: http://ridgefieldartassociation.com

Riverside Performing Arts: http://www.riversidepa.com

Second Story Gallery: http://secondstorygallery.org

Southwest Washington Watercolor Society: http://swwswatercolor.org

Southwest Washington Wind Symphony: http://swwindsymphony.org

Vancouver Dance Theatre: http://vancouverdancetheatre.com

Vancouver School of Arts and Academics: http://arts.vansd.org

Vancouver Symphony: http://vancouversymphony.org

Vancouver USA Singers: http://vancouversingers.org

Washburn Performing Arts Center: http://www.washburnpac.org/