After going virtual last year due to the pandemic, the Washougal Art Festival is back in person on Saturday.
Nineteen professional artists will gather in Reflection Plaza to sell their works.
“Art has been a real boon to Washougal and to the people who live there. We love it,” said Joyce Lindsay, co-president of Washougal Arts and Culture Alliance, the nonprofit organization that hosts the fair. “Washougal is small and there’s a community there that you don’t get in a larger city.”
Art for sale includes works by glass artists Charlene Hale, Shirley Bishop and Diane Moeglein; silver jewelry by Karen Roule; colorful stone, glass and mixed metal jewelry by Toni McCarthy; colored pencil artwork and coloring books from Tom West; sculpted animal jewelry by Eric Berlin; oil paintings and upcycled metal robots from Chrissie Forbes; and handmade wood boxes and other wood art from Beck Lipp.
A panel of judges admitted 25 artists to the 2020 online show. As a way to acknowledge how challenging last year was for creators and sellers of art, the Washougal Arts and Culture Alliance simply invited all those artists back to this year’s show.
“The crowd, the people — there’s something about it, especially after last year, when we were so busy at home making our art,” said artist Cyndee Starr, aka She Who Doodles. “You just need that feedback, plus there’s the camaraderie with the other vendors. You’re in your element when you do an art fair.”
The prolific Starr sells her jewel-toned floral photographs at art fairs around the region. She also participated in the Washougal Studio Artists Tour in March. In 2017, the Washougal Arts and Culture Alliance selected her work to appear on one of the festival’s promotional posters, sold every year at the festival.
The 2021 poster, “Love Grows Here,” was created by Washougal artist Anni Furniss (though she won’t have a booth at the festival this year). Proceeds from poster sales, along with the artists’ booth rental fees, fund the alliance’s mission to bring more public art to Washougal. The event also raises money by selling $5 raffle tickets for original works of art contributed by participating artists.
Camas artist Spike Palmer, a newcomer to the festival, is donating a painting of chickens to the raffle. The tattoo artist-turned-oil painter works on both canvas and wood, creating evocative landscapes and pet portraits. He’ll also be selling works from his new series, “On the Cutting Board,” which references his other passion: local organic food. Palmer is excited to be at the festival in person and is looking forward to “just having people see the work,” he said. “Painting is a pretty solitary occupation, so it’s nice to have a larger audience besides me and my dogs.”
Lindsay noted that food won’t be sold at the event in order to encourage people to visit nearby establishments, like Washougal Coffee Company and 2 Rivers Bar and Grill.
Though the festival was originally conceived as a fundraiser for Washougal’s public art, it’s grown into something that’s more like a celebration of the talented art community in Washougal, Camas and the Columbia Gorge, Lindsay said. It’s an event that unifies people around a cause that everyone can support.
“It’s been wonderful to see Washougal open up and love what we’ve done,” Lindsay said. “I personally think art makes a community better. It’s not political. You may like or not like a piece of art, but it’s not a fight. It’s a safe place for people to come together.”