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Downtown Art Walk aims to combat construction


Organizers hope crowds will brave roadwork for inaugural art showcase

by: SUBMITTED ART - Tigard painter Murray Elliot Breens painting of Cedar Creek Grist Mill is part of a collection of art on display in the inaugural Downtown Tigard Art Walk along Main Street through June 22.For the past several weeks, downtown Tigard has been torn apart by construction crews rebuilding Southwest Main Street.

But inside several of the businesses, a group of downtown merchants is adding a little beauty to the ugly construction site.

Business owners this week launched the Tigard Downtown Art Walk, a roving gallery of art on display in Main Street shops through June 22.

“People said, ‘You can’t launch this during the construction,’ and we said, ‘Why can’t we?’” said Steve DeAngelo, owner of DeAngelo’s Catering in downtown. “We know that businesses are struggling. Road construction is never healthy for businesses, so the concept that we could do a three-week-long art installation and drive business that might not have come in otherwise sounded great.”

More than a dozen local artists, as well as several Tigard High School students and three students from St. Anthony Catholic School have submitted pieces for the installation.

The art is on display at 19 stores sprinkled throughout downtown.

“People are able to get excited about art, and the businesses are able to make art connections for people who are interested in displaying art in the future,” said Elise Shearer, a longtime volunteer downtown who organized the event. “Everybody wins.”

The Art Walk, which officially started Monday, is sponsored by the Tigard Downtown Alliance, a group of property owners and stakeholders devoted to improving the city’s long-struggling core.

The alliance has been formally up and running for less than a year, but talks have been underway since early 2013 to form an organization of downtown business owners and stakeholders to spur change.

“A handful of us went to the city and said, ‘You guys are great, but you are not great at everything.’ There are some things that require a more ‘boots on the ground’ approach,” DeAngelo said.

It’s a tough task. The downtown has seen two previous merchant associations fail, but DeAngelo said the alliance is different.

“It’s a much broader stakeholder group,” he said. “We want to do something for the entire community and bring something that everyone can enjoy. We want to get people from Beaverton to shop here, and for folks in Tualatin to drive up the road and see what we’ve got to offer.”

The hope is to turn the art walk into an annual event, DeAngelo said.

“We are already thinking about next year,” DeAngelo added. “We have the foundation to build upon in the years to come.”

The art walk features several different mediums, including paintings, ceramics, photography, fiber arts, jewelry and more, Shearer said.

With construction expected to continue for several more months, Shearer said the event will bring in a new crowd to the otherwise quiet Main Street.

“I would really love to see people come into town and see what we have to offer here,” Shearer said.

“There are so many people that I know in Tigard that didn’t know that Symposium Coffee is here, or maybe they have heard of Café Allegro, but haven’t been in for awhile. They don’t know.”