Summer gallery series wraps up, with new plans for future

With Labor Day bringing the unofficial close to summer, Oroville will also say farewell to this year’s season of the Art Happens! gallery on Main Street.

For the past several months, the old bank building at the corner of Main Street and 14th Avenue has opened its doors each Saturday to welcome in art-lovers and curious explorers. Patrons have had the opportunity to enjoy works on display by a wide range of local professional artists, including a number whose works have been profiled in this column.

The gallery series was produced and hosted by 49 North Artists, a local not-for-profit group that focuses on supporting and promoting arts and artists in the Okanogan. (Note: in full disclosure, the author is a board member of 49 North Artists, and helped to produce the Art Happens! gallery series).

Karen Beaudette, who leads the arts group and who has been running the gallery each weekend this summer, sees the pop-up gallery model as one that holds particular promise for the area. “A classic, single-room, white-wall gallery seems like a dinosaur in 2017,” Beaudette says. “Too formal, too limited in types of media on display, too fuddy-duddy (and I can say that as a fuddy-duddy myself). What may be more feasible for a small town is a collection of multi-venue art displays that mix up media and genre and spread the experience beyond a single gallery. For example, small rooms, artist studios, theme exhibits, festivals, fairs, paint-ins. Re-invent the ways to put artwork on display.”

The Saturdays-only pop-up gallery has been a strong proof of concept for Beaudette and 49 North Artists. Though originally planned to open only every two weeks, the gallery’s crowd size, which far exceeded expectations, encouraged the group to open every weekend in response to high demand. Beaudette is also pleased to have provided an outlet for professional artists to increase their local exposure – many of those featured have strong followings nationwide, but still fly largely under the radar here at home. Beaudette was particularly pleased to provide photographer Justin Haug with his first local gallery showing. Haug’s work proved a crowd favorite throughout the summer, with a stunning selection of landscape and nature photography. “Justin Haug is an incredible photographer who will yet put the Okanogan landscape in National Geographic,” Beaudette predicts.

Beaudette also sees an impact on other local arts groups whose activity and energy has ramped up lately. “The gallery series has probably kick-started more arts’ awareness in the Valley,” Beaudette says, “as other arts’ organizations have stepped up lately: more effort for setting up regular displays, increased membership drives, and so on. I sense more of a stirring around to make themselves more visible. This stimulus to existing arts organizations may be the most effective impact of the short-term gallery season.”

Looking ahead, Beaudette has her sights set on late fall for the next major 49 North Artists project. Beaudette is planning an artisan craft show series in the weeks before Christmas: “We’re working towards offering multiple locations where four or five artisans can set up a series of one-day ‘Pop-Up Shoppes’ on Main Street. We’re thinking at least four Saturdays between mid-November and Christmas. The plan will fill gaps in Main Street, encourage more local shopping for one-of-a-kind gifts, and showcase individual artisans from the region.”

Those looking to connect with 49 North Artists for this and future projects can do so at www.49NorthArtists.com or at www.facebook.com/49NorthArtists.

If you have an event or program that you’d like covered in this column, you can email Daniel at Daniel.Klayton@gmail.com

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