It’s Saturday afternoon in November and it’s raining in Cannon Beach.
That may not be noteworthy, but despite the showers and the fact that this is generally the quiet season on the Oregon Coast, there’s the sound of music spilling onto the streets and the buzz of activity in the storefronts. It’s Stormy Weather Arts Festival weekend in Cannon Beach and a little rain or wind doesn’t slow down this town’s celebration of the arts.
Downtown Cannon Beach is barely more than two blocks, but musicians are performing at five squares and courtyards and at least 10 galleries have special events in full swing. I pop in to Northwest By Northwest Gallery and meet renowned landscape photographer Christopher Burkett who is discussing his work with a group of raincoat-wearing fans. Burkett is soft-spoken and humble, but he is recognized as one of the modern day masters of traditional color photographic printing and his work is represented at more than a dozen galleries across the country.
Later, Georgia Gerber will be in the gallery talking about her sculpture that is familiar to those around the Northwest with her works including Rachel the Pig at Seattle’s Pike Place Market entrance and 25 separate wildlife sculptures on and around Portland’s Pioneer Square.
Next door at Primary Elements Gallery, three sculptors are working on their latest pieces and taking time to chat with visitors. Rip Caswell, known for his wildlife sculpture nationwide is working on the clay original of a salmon that will eventually be cast in bronze.
Sculptor Heather Soderberg, one of the first women to own and operate a full service bronze foundry, works on the clay original of a shorebird that will be later cast in bronze.
At Archimedes Gallery, artist, illustrator and printmaker Amy Ruppel is starting a painting of a bear, first by laying down an acrylic base color of orange. When I returned to the gallery later for their evening reception, I was delighted to see the finished piece on display, a representational, but modern interpretation.
While there, I couldn’t pass up on a liquid work of art the gallery was offering: an “Apple Pie” cocktail made with locally-made Cannon Beach Distillery’s artisan rum.
My next stop is Bronze Coast Gallery, where I meet two sculptors whose work I have admired for years: Carol Gold, a California sculptor whose simple contemporary figurative sculptures manage to flow with expressive spirit and Oregon’s own David Crawford whose intricate creatures often have surprising details, movable parts and rich textures on every surface.
A Cannon Beach favorite after more than 40 years, local watercolor artist Jeffrey Hull shows me his latest original works capturing the beauty of this coastline.
At the Jeffrey Hull Gallery reception, the Djangophiles play music for guests.
This art-filled weekend starts with Arts in Action, a Saturday night event that combines featured artists at work, a silent auction of travel and experiential packages, along with food, drink and entertainment.
On Saturday, the second day of the Stormy Weather Arts Festival, a “Dancing in the Rain” fashion show emphasizes winter collections of outerwear and showed off one-of-a-kind artist created umbrellas.
Meanwhile, music can be heard from every corner of downtown Cannon Beach. Local and regional musicians are invited to perform at five locations during Saturday’s day-long Music Around Town event, including Oregon Coast duo Two Crows Joy playing Americana tunes and Jay Speakman and Jon Broderick who perform songs about the fishing industry.
One of the highlights of Stormy Weather Arts Festival is a spotlight concert, an opportunity to see a top-name performer in the intimate setting of Cannon Beach’s 200-seat Coaster Theatre Playhouse. This year, journeyman blues artist and Oregon Music Hall of Fame member Lloyd Jones took the sold out crowd on a journey through blues history and rocked the house with his full band including saxophone duo The Atlas Horns.
Cannon Beach galleries continue the festivities into Sunday and I wrap up my Stormy Weather weekend with a visit to Icefire Glassworks to watch glassblowing. Resident artists Jim Kingwell and Suzanne Kindland work year-round in their studio, but the heat of the kiln makes this a perfect stop when it’s stormy weather in Cannon Beach.
Cannon Beach has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Art Towns in America and the community hosts its annual Stormy Weather Arts Festival the first full weekend of each November. For more information, visit CannonBeach.org.