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Gallery's summer project features layers of art

COURTESY PHOTO - For the last 50 years, Valley Art has been offering Forest Grove residents affordable art and technique classes. The gallery's next activity, Traveling Canvases, begins July 11.Adventures in art don’t depend solely on one person’s art talents. They can engage many people at once, some of whom might be total strangers.

That idea is the driving force behind the Forest Grove-based Valley Art Association’s latest project, titled “Traveling Canvases.”

Each group of artists, with four in every group, gets a blank canvas. Individual members of the group add a layer of art onto the canvases and then pass it on to the next person to add another layer. The rotation continues until each artist gets their original canvas back after all four members have added their own layer, which they can then keep for free. Every rotation lasts around two weeks.

Jeanne Levy, the association’s education chairwoman, experienced the idea when she attended a workshop in Taos, New Mexico, a highly artistic region where Georgia O’Keeffe and many other prominent artists spent their time. This is the first time Valley Art is pursuing the project, and the response to it so far has largely been positive.

“People are excited, they’ve been saying that it sounds like a lot of fun,” said Levy.

Sometimes the project can be a hassle in other areas where the members have to mail their canvases. But by making the activity a more community-based art experience, Valley Art devotees hope to make it easier for everyone to pass along the torch.

“People can meet in front of Safeway, or give the canvas to the next person while meeting over coffee,” Levy said.

Another aspect of the project is how accessible it is. Anyone can join in and make a group — kids, teenagers, people of all skill levels — the canvas event is meant to be very inclusive. It’s also not limited to painting; people can add stickers, glue or paper napkins with a pretty pattern. Creativity is encouraged, as long as each person receives a dry canvas.

“You don’t have to be skilled to enjoy this,” said Levy. “People might think ‘I can’t do art, what could I possibly add?’ Be brave — the next person who gets the canvas is going to be thrilled with whatever is put on it, and their imagination will be triggered.”

All artists will sign up with an email or phone number so they can communicate with each other to help the canvases travel. They’ll receive a list of participants and the dates when they should get a canvas and when they should pass one on to the next person. Everyone can stop in to grab their blank canvas next Monday, July 11. To sign up, or to ask questions, call 503-341-9701, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or step inside the studio at 2022 Main St.

Since 1966, Valley Art has been providing affordable art and technique classes in the heart of downtown Forest Grove. After 50 years of being one of the oldest nonprofit, volunteer-driven art galleries in the Pacific Northwest, it continues to engage the town with activities invested in the community.

“It’s a really great summer activity,” Levy said. “I hoping it’ll help people become more familiar with the gallery and generate interest in art, especially for the younger crowd — and build a stronger community.”