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St. Helens inaugurates 'Spring Into Art Walk'

Collaborative effort offers chance to meet local artists, explore businesses and have fun

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Small pieces of artwork created by Rachel Burr are on display in Woodland Cottage. Burr, who works as a wood-burning artist, will be at the store on March 31 to talk about her creative techniques.Artists and business owners are uniting to host the first ever St. Helens art walk Thursday, March 31, in an effort to promote local businesses and feature the work of local artistic talents.

The “Spring Into Art Walk” is a joint effort of the Columbia Arts Guild, the South Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and visitor center, the St. Helens Economic Development Corp., and the Main Street program. The idea is to get people into local storefronts to meet community artists and view their work up close.

The art walk is set up like this: start at the St. Helens Courthouse from 3 to 4 p.m. for a kick-off party and pick up a map highlighting 16 local businesses, each with an artist in house. Some artists will have work for display, such as wood-burned wall pieces, while others may have small demos such as drum making. Some business will have food and drink samples available.

Participants are encouraged to stop at each shop on the list and have the art walk map stamped. At the end of the night, attendees can turn in their map for a prize drawing.

A wrap-up event will be held at the South Columbia Chamber of Commerce from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and will feature live music from the St. Helens Public Library Ukulele Orchestra and art displays.

Rachel Burr of Warren is one of the artists being showcased at the event. She will be housed at Woodland Cottage, where she has been selling some of her work for the past six months. Burr works in pyrography, the art of burning designs into wood or leather. She uses reclaimed wood.

Burr moved to the area in September and said she is looking forward to meeting new faces in the community, even if the turnout is small.

“Me, personally, I’m looking forward to it as a way to meet other artists I haven’t met,” Burr said.

Lindsey King, owner of Remedy Alley, an alternative healing clinic in St. Helens, regularly hosts drum making classes at her studio. Her work will be featured at the St. Helens Public Library during the event.

King views the event as an opportunity for “expanding the cultural awareness of the artists in the community,” as well as exposing more children and young adults to drum making.

PHOTO COURTESY OF LINDSEY KING - Lindsey King, owner of Remedy Alley, works with a group of students during a drum making class. King will be at the St. Helens Public Library demonstrating her drum making techniques.Artists will feature their work differently, depending on location and space available at each storefront. Many items will also be on sale, but will be at the discretion of each artist. The event also gives attendees an opportunity to shop local while admiring the work of local talent.

“I’m mostly excited about drawing attention to local businesses,” said Gretchen Williams, the chamber’s visitor representative. “I’m always surprised how many people don’t know what’s in their own backyard.”

Natasha Parvey-Leskowich, executive director for the chamber, Teresa Knight, a Columbia Arts Guild member, and a handful of other volunteers began discussing the idea of hosting an art walk in the fall.

It took just five weeks to put the event together, Williams explained, adding that the idea quickly became popular.

The group wanted to organize the event since there are few locations in town for artists to display their pieces, she said.

“If they’re fortunate enough to get in with a local business to put it on display or consignment or whatever, that’s really their only outlet,” Williams said.

Event organizers said they hope to make art walks semi-regular occasions in St. Helens based on the success of next week’s event. Another will likely be planned for the end of April and May. The hope is for businesses and artists in Scappoose to host art walks in the future as well, Williams said.

"Spring Into Art Walk" also features a coloring contest for adults, teens and children. Pick up a coloring sheet designed by Teresa Knight at the South Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and turn in the completed picture by Wednesday, March 30, at 1 p.m. to be entered. Coloring sheets are also available on the chamber's website. A winner will be announced during the wrap-up party Thursday, March 31.

For more information about the “Spring Into Art Walk” visit the chamber’s website at www.sccchamber.org or call the visitor’s center at 503-397-0685. Additionally, a Facebook page has been created for the event.