Lake Oswego is indeed a City of Arts -- see the newest addition to the public collection at Lakewood Center for the Arts

PHOTO COURTESY OF LAKEWOOD CENTER FOR THE ARTS - Lake Oswegos The Alphabet Project showcases the diversity of the arts in Lake Oswego.

Andrew Edwards knows he and his fellow arts advocates have long viewed Lake Oswego as "The City of Arts" — but now the entire community can share that vision, too.

As executive director of the Lakewood Center for the Arts, Edwards and the center recently partnered with the Oswego Heritage Council and the Arts Council of Lake Oswego to commission a painting that showcases the city's love of the arts and celebrates the diversity of the painters, musicians, actors, directors, filmmakers, writers and other artists who have called Lake Oswego home.

The result is a 26-part piece called "The Alphabet Project" painted by Gig Harbor, Wash.-based artist Melinda Curtin. The modular, folk-style painting uses each letter of the alphabet to highlight a different aspect of Lake Oswego's art scene.

Poster and notecard prints of the painting are available for sale at each of the three arts organizations' offices, and the original — painted on an antique window — will eventually be on display at Lakewood Center, Edwards said.

"Lake Oswego itself really is a city of arts; there is an abundance of artists in our community," he said. "I hope that the city will embrace that as its theme and embrace Lake Oswego as an arts destination."

He said the organizations were introduced to Curtin's city alphabet paintings when she attended the Festival of the Arts in June — she took home the Art in the Park Awards' blue ribbon for 2-D Mixed Media. Edwards and Art in the Park curator Sally Hedman met with her after the festival and developed an idea for an arts-themed alphabet painting for Lake Oswego.

The main motivation for the project, Edwards said, was the idea of a collaboration between the three organizations. The project was funded in part by a $3,000 grant from the Lakewood Center Associates, and he said sales of the prints should cover the remaining cost.

The groups put together an A-to-Z list for Curtin to paint, and the artist said she was surprised by the number of arts-themed icons in the city.

"I didn't know such a small community could have that much going on arts-wise," she said. "As an artist, I kind of went 'wow, who knows what I would have turned out like if I had grown up in this town.'"

In addition to city alphabets, Curtin also specializes in floor art, glass clocks and reverse glass paintings.

Since she started doing city alphabet paintings three years ago, Curtin has painted eight cities, including Portland, Seattle and Los Angeles. She does most of the pieces for nonprofit groups, which sell the originals at fundraising auctions.

She said the city-themed paintings highlight the connection people can feel with the places they live.

"We grew up in some city or we live in some city or we miss some city," she said. "It's just one way to join people in something people have in common."

Contact Kelsey O'Halloran at 503-636-1281 ext. 101 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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