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Weather or not

Sunday rain doesn't dampen turnout for the 44th annual Lake Oswego Festival Arts
by: Vern Uyetake, Jalen Lowery, 7, of Lake  Oswego has fun creating digital art using the pen -enabled display in the demonstration area of the digital art exhibit  in the  Lakewood Center.

Great art doesn't depend on great weather, but great weather certainly helps an art festival.

That was shown by the 2007 Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts. Temperatures pushed up near 100 degrees in '06, but this past weekend, despite some rain Sunday, they were in the quite comfortable 70-degree range.

That brought crowds pouring down State Street into Lakewood Center and into George Rogers Park, and they made the '07 festival one of the most successful in the 44-year run of the event.

'It was really good,' said Karen Crist, who co-chaired the festival along with Lois Suwol. 'We had fantastic days on Friday and Saturday.

'On Sunday we had some rain. That slowed things down at the park, but that only brought more people to Lakewood Center.'

Official figures for attendance and art sales were not available at press time, so the success of the festival could only be judged by unofficial means. Like the mother and her young daughter who broke into a dance on Ladd Street, next to George Rogers Park.

The festival even got a nice boost from the media. A Portland television station had a feature on the festival Saturday morning, and the result was even more patrons.

'We had a lot of people come here for the first time,' Crist said. 'They said they found out about us on television and decided they wanted to come see us.'

Pixel Power

Nice weather is nice, but art is still the thing for the festival and it benefited tremendously from its headline exhibit 'PIXEL: Artists Who Use The Computer.'

'The special exhibit is going really well,' Crist said on Saturday. 'There was a tremendous turnout for demonstrations (including prominent Pixel artist J. Otto Siebold).'

'There were times people literally couldn't move in the Pixel exhibit,' Suwol said. 'At times there were a hundred people in a room watching demonstrations. It was amazing.'

The other exhibits also drew healthy crowds.

'We've had just a steady stream,' said Dr. Rudy Stevens, former president of the Lake Oswego Foundation for the Arts, who was serving as a guide for the Chronicle Exhibit.

The Chronicle Exhibit is always one of the festival's biggest attractions because it requires that art incorporate elements of Lake Oswego. Sometimes those elements are hard to find, but they're there. Such as in the work by Margaret Short, a painter known all over the world. Her painting looked like something from one of the old masters; but if you looked closely you could see the names of well-known local shops, restaurants, and stores, like Wizer's, Chico's and Tucci's.

In other paintings Lake Oswego was much more apparent, such as the painting of the statue of the naked striped lady, which greets visitors to Lake View Village, The Quilt Lady, Ramona Youngquist's Lakefront Garden, and Paul Mussal's painting of a 4th of July night in Lake Oswego showing a little girl holding a sparkler as the dark sky above her explodes with magnificent fireworks.

'We're looking for the best of the best,' Stevens said.

Of course, Stevens was happy to note how the cooler temperatures were bringing much larger crowds.

'This room was 101 degrees last year,' Stevens said. 'The art is always first, but the weather has a lot to do with the better crowds this year.'

A nice flow of art

Over at the Open Show, curator Jan Rimerman was holding court with one of the best shows ever, thanks to her veteran crew of students who helped her hang the exhibit.

'We're the largest open show in the Pacific Northwest,' said Rimerman, who has been the show's curator since 1992. 'We hang everything that is brought in the door.'

That means a huge job for Rimerman and her students, but they were up to the task of the art of showing art.

'We had 25 spaces and only seven new people, which was good for me,' Rimerman said.

As always, Rimerman used shapes and colors to guide audiences 'like a dance, where they're directed where I want them to go. People only notice when a show is not well hung. Their eyes get tired and they don't see everything.'

In the midst of all this art - oil paintings, photography, sculpture, stone abstract, impressionists - Rimerman is like a theatrical director standing in the middle. Complicating the effort is the wide range of talent on display, from professional artists to 'someone who works up enough courage to show for the first time.'

'It's like I say, 'No, no, no, no - perfect!'' she said. 'There's a competition among the kids. It's sort of like putting a big puzzle together.'

Another remarkable range of art was on display at George Rogers Park, where there was a great mix of art, food and theatre. Satisfaction ran high, there, too.

'You never know how you're going to do until Sunday night,' said Joe Apodaca, who along with his wife Linda is among Oregon's finest metal artists. 'But the crowds are good, the weather is great, and the festival is certainly well organized.'

As a long-time exhibitor at the event, Apodaca was happy to note the improvements.

'There's more food vendors and the beer and wine garden,' he said. 'The festival committee takes suggestions. This year there was a place for artists to rest and get a massage in the mornings. I did and Linda did and it was great, because it's a long, long day out here.'

Art of another sort took place on the main stage featuring the Missoula Children's Theatre. Theatre fans were treated to two performances of The Jungle Book by an all-Lake Oswego cast led by 14-year-old Taylor Sharman in the lead role of Mowgli. There was plenty of action, singing, dancing and comedy, of course, but the play's primary delight was the faces of the little children wearing wolf and monkey costumes as they pranced around the stage.

'It's amazing how much they can learn in four days,' said Brynne Mason, recreation specialist for the city of Lake Oswego, which assisted in the production.

Suwol estimated that the festival attracted between 20,000 and 25,000 people. But, overall, she saw it from a different perspective.

'We had great crowds and I'm sure art sales went well,' she said. 'But our primary purpose is arts education, and we definitely accomplished that.'