The Cannon Beach Gallery Group puts on three annual arts events: Stormy Weather Arts Festival in November, Spring Unveiling Arts Festival in May, and Plein Air & More in June. All three festivals have developed into the premier art events in the region. The Gallery Group promotes and organizes the festivals, but what is the Gallery Group and what is its purpose?
In talking with several of the group’s founders, recollections vary but everyone agrees that the gallery community in Cannon Beach decided to band together to pool resources and efforts to promote the arts. “I was along for the ride,” said Icefire Glassworks artist and business owner Jim Kingwell. “I saw this as a good opportunity for the galleries to work together in cooperation instead of competition.” Realizing that combined resources had more potential to convey the art experience here, the founding galleries established a non-profit business association and the Cannon Beach Gallery Group was formed. The group and its bylaws were recognized by the Internal Revenue Service in June of 2003 with sixteen original members. Over the years Gallery Group members have come and gone, but a core group has been involved from the beginning. Bronze Coast Gallery owner Kim Barnett says that the success of the group and its ability to put on premier events like Spring Unveiling is really a collective effort. “Many people have contributed and been instrumental to our efforts,” he said. Spring Unveiling: The art community of Joseph, Oregon was doing a ‘Spring Unveiling’ and it seemed like a similar event would be a good fit in Cannon Beach. So in 2001 the galleries organized, promoted, and carried out the event. It was deemed successful enough to do again.
Spring Unveiling started out as a one day event but over the years individual galleries began adding Friday and Sunday components which led to the event expanding into a weekend long arts festival. A schedule of unveilings and receptions at participating galleries is made available and art lovers are treated to first looks at new creations throughout the weekend. In 2012 an ‘Art from the Chef’s Table’ feature was initiated in an effort to add something new and involve more of the business community.
Plein Air & More: In 2009 the Gallery Group introduced a new arts event, Plein Air and More, which takes the artists out into the city and surrounding area to paint and create. This event is highly interactive with artists and art lovers and in its short history promises to be as successful as Spring Unveiling. The event kicks off with a Meet & Greet on Friday evening where gallery owners, artists, and art lovers can mix and mingle and see the artwork on display. Artists are turned loose over the weekend to work and create throughout Cannon Beach, including the beaches and forests. Maps detailing the location of the working artists are distributed through the Chamber of Commerce and Gallery Group member galleries.
Stormy Weather Arts Festival: For over 25 years this annual celebration in November has brought together a diverse collection of artists. Although Stormy Weather is an event put on by the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce, input and participation by Gallery Group members is vital to the festival. Members serve on the committee and do much of the work required to hold the event.
An important factor in the success of Cannon Beach Gallery Group events has been the sponsors who have supported and expanded the limited advertising resources of the association. Sponsors of the Gallery Group represent the lodging, restaurant, and retail business communities. In recent years funding from the City of Cannon Beach Tourism and Arts Committee has allowed the group to access wider avenues for promotion and hire an experienced Marketing and Public Relations professional. There has been more involvement with the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce in recent years and the Gallery Group has assisted and consulted to improve the Stormy Weather Arts Festival, a Chamber of Commerce event.