There's no better example of why Lake Oswego is known as the City of Arts than the three-day festival that fills the Lakewood Center and George Rogers Park every June with education, entertainment and emotion.
I had the pleasure of spending most of the weekend at the 55th-annual Festival of the Arts, where I tried to take in every bit of the sights, sounds and tastes it had to offer. The experience left me with a full feeling in my heart, my mind and my stomach.
There are certain moments that stand out, though.
The first was the opportunity to take in and experience the burgeoning world of 3-D printing as art. The festival's Special Exhibit, "Layers: the Evolving Art of 3-D Printing," offered a glimpse into a world where technology and art collide.
Exhibit curators Ben Dye and Briana Thornton did an excellent job of bringing in some of the region's most cutting-edge artists and 3-D printing masters for a weekend of educational talks and demos that blew festival-goers' minds. As a tactile learner, I really liked that they had a table full of 3-D printed items that were available to touch; it was a unique chance to play with and feel the textures being created with this new art form.
On one occasion, I was visiting the exhibit when Thornton and Dye were working on a 3-D print of a cat that Thornton had drawn. It was quite a spectacle to behold.
Over at George Rogers Park, I had the opportunity to leisurely peruse the artwork of hundreds of regionally acclaimed painters, photographers, jewelers, sculptors and woodworkers. It took me nearly two hours to complete one lap of "Art in the Park" to fully appreciate everything it had to offer.
One painter whose work really caught my eye was Spokane native Noelle Dass. Dass presented a collection that was not only fun and playful, but left you feeling genuinely happy after viewing it. Her work features scenes emblazoned with happy little dogs, cats and other animals in silly situations that are often wittily titled.
Several of Dass's paintings featured harmonious landscape scenes with little travel trailers placed in them. One featured a car pulling an Airstream trailer through a whimsical landscape and included a quote from Henry David Thoreau that stuck with me throughout the weekend: "Go boldly in the direction of your dreams, live the life you have imagined."
Just around the corner from Dass was another artist I've become obsessed with lately: PM Shore. I got to interview Shore for a story about the festival that I wrote for the June edition of LO Monthly magazine; she's known for her depictions of well-known Portland locations across downtown, the Pearl District and Old Town.
Shore tells me her work began when she started seeing the city's old buildings start to disappear, and she felt an innate duty to capture their essence before they're all taken down.
More recently, she's begun to capture Oregon's natural beauty — both coastal settings and those of her native Mosier in the Columbia River Gorge. One of her depictions of the Mosier Hills is so full of emotion and magnificence, I found it increasingly harder to walk away each time I viewed it.
As I stood chatting with Shore, we listened to the electrifying sounds coming from the Main Stage just a few hundred yards away. At that moment, it was James Ford and the Tough Builts; Ford's a local guy who at one point was a student of festival music curator Danny Schauffler. Later that night, I discovered that I've got a few friends who once played with Ford in a band back in high school at Valley Catholic.
This year's musical lineup once again proved Schauffler's acumen at putting together a bill of locally and regionally acclaimed musicians. Saturday evening was one for the record books, with dynamic performances from both Grammy Award-winner Jeff Lorber Fusion and Schauffler's own Crazy 8s.
I found it particularly mind-blowing that at certain points, Lorber was playing both a classical piano and electric keyboard at the same time. The way he fused the two sounds together was a medley of old school and new, paying tribute to the past while looking to the future.
On Sunday, Curtis Salgado rounded out the weekend with an incredible performance of his new album, "Rough Cut." He performed with guitarist Alan Hager — a guy who really knows how to make his instrument sing, especially when using a glass slide.
Salgado's set was one of the most powerful of the weekend. On two occasions, he paid homage to deceased heroes of the Portland music scene — longtime KINK DJ Les Sarnoff and blues legend Paul DeLay.
What I particularly enjoyed about Salgado's set was that he a took a few moments between each song to give the crowd a history lesson, whether it was about a particular song, a style of blues or a region that each was inspired by. He created a connection between himself and the audience that feels like it's missing in music these days.
I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Salgado, the consummate pro and 2018 Soul Vocalist of the Year, knows how to evoke emotion in a crowd.