Valley Art continues to celebrate local artistry
For more than half a century, Valley Art in Forest Grove has been creating and sharing art with the community.
Since 1966, the gallery located on Main Street in the heart of downtown has displayed and sold local creations stemming from paintings to fine pottery, jewelry to wood carvings, glass art to metal sculpture, and even textiles and garden art.
"I think Forest Grove is an art-thirsty town," said Linda Allen, president of Valley Art's board of directors. "I think we are an arts community, and I think we're an arts destination. We have people coming out from Portland and from all communities around to come to our gallery, because we have a good reputation for having quality art, and for affordable prices."
Valley Art will be hosting its Annual Artist Event celebrating artists of the Pacific Northwest, starting Friday, Nov. 13, and continuing through Sunday, Nov. 22.
As part of the festivities, it will feature art pieces including jewelry, metalwork, baskets, porcelain, woodworking, blown glass, garden pottery, sculpture, photographs, fabric art, pastels, oils, acrylics and watercolors.
The gallery will offer extended hours during the event: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
As part of the event, Valley Art members — who pay $15 a year for an individual or $25 for a family — get a one-time, 10% discount on their entire purchase.
"It's the only time of the year we give any kind of discount, because Valley Art absorbs that 10 percent at no cost to the artist," said Daniela Morescalchi, Valley Art's marketing and web developer. "It's a great time to shop locally and support a great organization, and those memberships help keep our doors open, which is really critical right now."
The people behind the gallery, which closed for three months at the onset of the pandemic, were forced to rethink how they were going about things amid concerns over the coronavirus and social distancing restrictions. In turn, they researched and created new safety protocols within their retail and classroom spaces, and since reopening, they have begun rekindling sales.
"This past month, we seem to be on an upward trajectory," Allen said. "I think we're doing better, and I'm hoping the next couple of months really keep us afloat."
In addition to the countless art displays on-site, Valley Art offers classes and workshops, a pottery studio, featured artists and themed shows, and unique gifts ranging from an extensive jewelry selection to scarves, wood objects, utilitarian things like imaginative ice cream scoops, pizza cutters and wine bottle stoppers, and even a plethora of glass objects.
"We've got a whole slew of new Christmas ornaments coming in," Allen said. "More than you could shake a stick at."
Allen also said they offer a number of gifts under $50, including handmade books, small paintings, mugs, and an abundance of pottery.
"All of which make great gifts," she added.
Most of the art at Valley Art comes from the Pacific Northwest: Oregon or beyond to other Northwestern states like Washington and Montana. In addition to keeping things local, the gallery's operators are also making an even greater effort to diversify their gallery with culture specific to the people of the Washington County area, along with art representative of all ages, genders and ethnic backgrounds.
As an example, Allen said that she recently saw an Oregon family of Latino weavers on a television program, loved what they were doing, and is working to get them and their work in the gallery.
"Sometimes we research artists, other times we see them on TV, and other times they come to us," Allen said.
Another piece of Valley Art's mission is cultivating the next generation of artists — both children and adults who are new to creative disciplines.
"This past spring, we gave away a whole bunch of art kits, and it was very popular," Allen said, noting that Valley Art plans to do something similar again next month. "Many families came by with their little ones that were home, and they were so grateful to have a project to do with them."
The gallery offers regular painting and pottery classes, and even introductory and fun classes for kids.
Valley Art has limited class sizes and strives to provide a safe environment for people interested in in-person instruction, including glass partitions on all of the tables. Masks, of course, are required.
Typically, Valley Art would have regular shows at the facility, featuring some of the area's more talented and accomplished artists. While those are on hold, the gallery's operators hope to bring them back in 2021.
"We have tons of new work, and more coming in," Allen said. "And people are so grateful that there is a venue for art because so many of the venues and festivals have been closed or canceled. It's our pleasure to provide that, and to do so in this community."
For more information on Valley Art and its upcoming annual artist event, visit valleyart.org.
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