Organizers of the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts have labored tirelessly over the past year to assemble the myriad actors, musicians, crafters and artists who will comprise the 54th-annual rendition of one of the Pacific Northwest's largest gatherings of creative minds.
The three-day festival kicks off on Friday, June 23, at the Lakewood Center for the Arts and nearby George Rogers Park with a promise to stimulate all the senses. Festivalgoers will find as many familiar faces as they will fresh ones, with a diverse lineup of exhibits, food vendors and crafts to explore.
All events are free and open to the public, although a suggested donation of $5 per person or $10-$20 per family is encouraged to support opportunities for local artists.
Musical offerings will range from the Latin heat of the Bobby Torres Ensemble to the sweet vocal stylings of Andy Stokes, with The Kingsmen providing a bit of rock 'n' roll nostalgia. Food, beer and wine will be available in George Rogers Park, as well as more than 100 booths filled with jewelry, ceramics, photography, painting and other artistic endeavors.
A quick jaunt down State Street to the Lakewood Center will bring visitors to four unique exhibits, including a curated Open Show — one of the largest shows of its kind in the Pacific Northwest; a Special Exhibit called "Beyond The Point," featuring works in colored pencil and graphite; a photography exhibit chronicling life in Lake Oswego; and this year's juried Artist's Vision exhibit, titled "The Skies Opened."
'Look at the space'
Artist's Vision curator Briana Thornton — alongside jurors Anna Fitzgerald, Hector Rene and Anthony Quito — sorted through countless submissions to create a very specific aesthetic for their exhibit.
Thornton, a graduate of both New York City's School of Visual Arts and Brooklyn College, says she and her cohort came up with the theme for "The Skies Opened" by re-imagining the space in which they would build the exhibit, which just so happens to be the upstairs hallway of the Lakewood Center.
"My theory around curating and my approach is to look at the space. Some people look at the artists, but I do the opposite," Thornton says. "I want the space to be a part of the art, not just hold the art."
The dichotomy of lighting throughout the space — some harsh and jarring, some soft and diffused — caused Thornton's imagination to envision a storm.
Thinking of the hallway as a portal between past and future, the exhibit will entice the audience to view the space as a figurative middle or present. This present, Thornton beckons viewers to imagine, is the metaphorical eye of the storm, a break from the chaos that is simultaneously behind and in front of us.
It was through this lense that Thornton and her jurors were able to select specific artists and pieces to capture the essence of the motif they've conceptualized. The colors included in the exhibit are meant to flow so the entire display has a cinematic feel
"When you're in a gallery you have more room, and you can view (the artwork) from different angles and distances. I wasn't given (that option), so the art we chose had to be able to be viewed in a tight space," Thornton says. "I wanted to include pieces that were a minimalist aesthetic, very organic elements, crystal forms, dirt, mud, rain, these strong textures that you don't need to be very far away from. We wanted pieces that were fluid in form, and I think we did a good job of that."
Julie Forbes of Portland is one artist featured in the exhibit who is sure to captivate audiences with her bricolage style — the creation of art using diverse items that are either readily available or found. Forbes says she enjoys casual strolls through the city and often uses her walks to find interesting items to include in her work.
"I lived in New York City at a time when they didn't have recycling like they do now for electronics, so one day I saw a giant blue box sitting on the curb," she says. "I brought it home, broke it open and all summer I created art out of it."
Is one person's trash another person's art? Nevermind old idioms; Forbes' work recalls a sort of 70s science fiction nostalgia. Many of her sculptures, or "globes" as she likes to refer to them, look like some far-off planet where junk is no longer junk, but the building blocks of something new and exciting.
"I consider the globes among my favorite pieces," she says. "They not only break the mold of what (sculptures) are made of, but since they're hanging sculptures, they're part of this new zeitgeist of how sculptures are going."
Forbes says she is looking forward to her second consecutive appearance at the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts, primarily because of the diversity of art and range of people who attend the event. The festival will be open 10 a.m.-9 p.m. on Friday, June 23, and Saturday, June 24, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday, June 25.
For more information, maps and a schedule of events, see the special section inside today's issue of The Review or visit www.www.lakewood-center.org.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: 2017 Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts
WHEN: Friday, June 23-Sunday, June 25
WHERE: Lakewood Center for the Arts, 368 S. State St.; and George Rogers Park, at the corner of State Street and Ladd Street
HOURS: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday; Kids Get Creative is set for 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday
COST: Although all events are free, a donation of $5 per person or $10-$20 per family is suggested.
FREE SHUTTLE: Parking near the festival sites is limited; shuttles will operate during show hours from Lake Oswego Junior High, Lakeridge High and Marylhurst University, as well as several stops in the downtown area.
NOTE: No smoking allowed; no pets other than service animals allowed; an ATM is available in George Rogers Park.
MORE INFORMATION: Go to www.Lakewood-center.org