Art in the Pearl

2010 Art in the Pearl arts festival.  Portland, OR.  Photo: KGilb.

2010 Art in the Pearl arts festival. Portland, OR. Photo: KGilb.

A stream of visitors poured into the North Park Blocks of Portland’s Pearl District last weekend to attend the 14th Annual “Art in the Pearl” Arts Festival. Up to 75,000 people were expected to show up this year. In spite of the cooler temps and the threat of rain, I think the estimates were accurate. Some may have been wearing jackets or sipping cups of hot tea/ coffee, but the artists still attracted quite a crowd!

The first “Art in the Pearl” we attended was a lot smaller and featured mostly local artists, but that was a few years ago. It has since become one of the nation’s premier arts festivals. This year, artists came from all over the country to exhibit their work–some from as far away as Alexandria VA and Atlanta GA. Over 125 artists in all, displaying everything from paintings, drawings, and sculptures to jewelry, pottery, and blown glass.

Some of our favorites included: Oil paintings by Diane Russell and Jennifer Phillips. Photography by Randy Dana. Pottery/Ceramics by Ken Standhardt, Charles Gluskoter, and Alan Higinbotham. Pastel Drawings by Jeff White, Amanda Houston, and Marla Baggetta. Blown glass by John Fields.

A true banquet for the eyes, but the best thing about “Art in the Pearl”? It’s not just a visual experience. This arts festival is interactive. No matter where we went, we heard the murmur and chatter of voices.

In the Education Pavilion, both adults and children were encouraged to try their own arts/crafts projects under the guidance of experienced artists and art instructors. In the Demonstraton Booths, professional artists talked freely about the “creative process” as they worked. And in each tent, the artist was available to answer questions about technique and subject matter.

“Art in the Pearl” is one of the few artist-run festivals in the country. Perhaps that’s what has made it so successful. I do know their efforts are much appreciated by the public. See you all next year!

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