ART SHOWN BRIGHTLY IN MAPLE HALL – Folks flocked to Maple Hall last Friday for the 35h anniversary Art’s Alive! legacy show. The traditional opening reception was a crush and a good time. Not only that, some $25,000 worth of art sold. The show closed Monday. All hail and praise to the town’s Art Commission managers and the many volunteers who made it the best Art’s Alive! ever. – Photo by Nancy Crowell
The 35th Anniversary of Art’s Alive! in La Conner opened with a bang and a crush of people attending the opening reception Friday in Maple Hall and the weekend, extending through 4 p.m. Monday, kept drawing people in. The show’s title, “Celebrating Skagit Valley Art Legacy,” was apt. Some 10 of the 12 artists had shown previous years.
The late Clayton James and the elderly Ed Kamuda were the headliners and show draws. And they sold “really well” said Sylvia Strong, co-chair of the La Conner Arts Commission and show director. “Almost everyone sold really well,” she noted. “I had no idea we had such fabulous sales, but we really did,” she said, in a bit of an understatement.
Sales Friday were $25,000, over 60% of the preliminary sales estimates exceeding $40,000. Strong said almost 50 pieces were purchased. John Leaver, La Conner Town Councilmember and liaison to the Arts Commission, observed visitors in Maple Hall at 4 p.m. Monday, as the show closed.
Extending Art’s Alive through Monday was new this year, and a success. Town Administrator Scott Thomas recounted a person who had made a purchase during the weekend and came back Monday for an additional buy. “Having the show open on Monday allowed them (visitors) to do that,” Thomas said, saying they could sleep on their initial viewing and return for the sale. Thomas staffed the cashier’s table throughout the weekend. He said there were several Monday sales.
Whether buying or not, Thomas saw people enjoying themselves.
Individual art works were priced higher and sold. Some James pieces that sold were $4,000 and prices on the Kamuda art were similarly priced. There were sculptures from Peregrine O’Gormley and Pieter VanZanden in the $7,000 range. It is not known if any of those pieces sold.
Visitors and townspeople had high praise for this year’s show, all the organizers said. Leaver said people were feeling excellent about the show. He said the turnout was higher and thought sales would set an all-time high.
Strong started planning in January, with the goal to make the 35th anniversary year special. The Commissioners chose the term “legacy’ and obtained works by James and Kamuda. Invitations went to established artists with reputations and followings. Artists chosen this year were Amy Carson, Kris Ekstrand, Becky Fletcher, Nicolette Harrington, Clayton James, Ed Kamuda, Peregrine O’Gormley, Roger Small, Christine Troyer, Pieter VanZanden, Thomas Wood and Lynn Zimmerman.
Recent years had highlighted emerging and popular artists. Sales in the last four years ranged between $12,000 and $15,000, Strong remembered.
Strong had a clear vision in her role, expanded from curator setting up the exhibit in past years. She wanted to match the high quality and the nature of Art’s Alive in its early years. “This was one show that was something that had to happen and happened again. This was a great show, it was just strong and people responded. We got so many compliments from artists that had been in in past years,” she said. Chris Elliot had coordinated Art’s Alive, praised this year’s edition to Strong.
Strong was quick to praise the many volunteers, and singled out Sheila Johnson, who put in hundreds of hours for many months, with activities ranging from building the website to coordinating advertising and gaining sponsors. Leaver credited Johnson for graphic design work and more, adding to her accolades.
Thomas also heralded the volunteers. Leaver said all the food was made by volunteers, with Johnson baking cooking and desserts for days and volunteers in Maple Hall’s kitchen all day Friday. No food came from restaurants this year, though several made cash donations.
This was the first year with flowers on tables and throughout the space. They were also donated.
Leaver said 26 sponsors donated $2,725.
Final sales are still being tallied.
Open show winners
Alex Kargopoltsev was voted the people’s choice winner in the open show by the public for his cubist rendering of La Conner. Sharon Curran won second place for her plein air landscape capturing fields, mountains and clouds. J. Lonnee’s abstract watercolor of Skagit Bay was voted third. Anyone living in the La Conner school district can show one piece in the open show and past invitational artists may also exhibit a piece.
Art’s Alive was hosted by the La Conner Arts Commission and its volunteers.