Hundreds descended on Wait Park on Saturday to celebrate the quirky celebration of all things artistic, which was the first Through the Looking Glass Art Festival hosted by the newly-revived Canby Arts Association.
The event showcased a variety of visual arts including painting, photography, sculpture and ceramics, glassware, weaving and more, as well as music, food, literary arts, theater and even a little street magic courtesy of local illusionist Scott Anderson.
Local character actress Grace Peterson enchanted many visitors as Alice Off Alice in Wonderlandfestival co-founder Shelley Arndt’s favorite book and one of the larger themes of the event.
Chalk artist Emra Nation paid for her teasing earlier in the week with a series of rabbit tracks pointing the way to Wait Park, with two sidewalk masterpieces, one honoring the Canby festival and one paying homage to the festival Alice.
Grocery vendors were also encouraged to tailor their menu items to the theme, such as: B. Heart-shaped personal pizzas from Odd Moe’s. There were plenty of activities for children including a bouncy castle, take-home and DIY art projects by Canby Kiwanis, face painting and balloon animals.
Tyler Clawson and Hannah Ray Lambert, co-hosts of the literature podcast Between Lewis and Lovecraft also brought a unique twist to the festival by hosting several live on-site interviews throughout the day in Wait Park.
Attendees gave positive feedback on the addition to Canby’s calendar of events.
“I’m so impressed with Megan and Paul Waterman, Shelley and Eric Arndt, and Kayla DeShazer for their hard work and creative vision,” said Luana Hill, a Canby resident and longtime Kiwanian. “These are five of the best things that have happened to Canby in recent years. So nice to have a lovely day at the park totally dedicated to the creative spirit.”
Shelley Arndt, who serves as President of the Arts Association and also owns the Art-O-Maddic Gallery and Gifts with her husband Eric, deemed the festival a success and believed they had exceeded their visitor expectations with well over 500 art lovers and curious passers-by – by filtering throughout the day.
“I think it went better than any of us thought,” she said. “There were a few hiccups but it wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle. The audience seemed really enjoying themselves and that was a win for me.”
“We were pleasantly surprised by the participation,” agreed Paul Waterman, association secretary and co-owner of The Book Nook. “It exceeded our expectations. After so many years of hiatus from the Canby Arts Association, there wasn’t much to historically account for participation.”
Founded in 1982, the Canby Arts Association is a volunteer-run not-for-profit organization with a rich history in Canby.
It grew out of the earlier efforts of a group of local artists known as the Canby Art Squad and has done much to shape the fabric of community that so many residents enjoy today, including founding the original General Canby Days and overseeing construction of the iconic pavilion in Wait Park.
The group directed Canby’s centennial murals on the historic Police Building by prolific muralist Larry Kangas and also helped launch the Slice of Summer concert series and the Canby Wine and Arts Festival and the Richard Brown Fine Arts Center at Canby High School.
But it had lain dormant for several years before the Arndts, Watermans and DeShazer came on board.
“It’s been a great experience for us to bring a free, family-friendly event to our beautiful downtown area,” said Kayla DeShazer, the association’s director of marketing. “From councillors, to local business owners and families, they all said they had a wonderful time and look forward to attending again next year.
“We also received many comments on our social media platforms from members of the Canby community who were disappointed they couldn’t make it because they were out of town. Many vendors have told me this is the best arts festival they have ever attended and encouraged us to make it a two-day event next year!”
The flood of positive feedback has inspired the team to look forward to next year’s festival — and dream up another new event, DeShazer teased. There is more to it than that.
Association Treasurer Eric Arndt thanked his fellow board members, the generous financial support of the Regional Arts Cultural Coalition, the Clackamas County Cultural Coalition and local sponsors, as well as the many volunteers, artists and vendors who all helped bring the festival to life in its first year .
“It really took a whole village to make this successful — including our friends and family who helped keep us sane,” he said. “And of course everyone who came to support us or spread the word. Each element was equally necessary to make this successful.”
The Canby Arts Association is already planning fun additions for next year, with applications for the 2023 Through the Looking Glass Arts Festival expected to open in October.
“We’re excited to be showcasing even more local artists, authors, musicians and culinary artists next year,” said Megan Waterman, vice president of the association and co-owner of The Book Nook.
For more information, contact the Canby Arts Association on Facebook.
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