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
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/