We arrived at Portland’s Montgomery Park fairly early on Sunday morning, but the parking lot was already filling up fast. Inside the Atrium was a dizzying array of artists, authors, craftsmen, and a half dozen birds of prey. The occasion? Portland Audubon Society’s Wild Arts Festival–the Pacific NW’s premiere exhibition of nature-related art and books.
Coffee and tea in hand, we zipped up to the top floor and worked our way down. So much talent! Seventy artists working in a variety of media to celebrate the beauty of nature: oil paintings, pastels, watercolors, pottery, metal sculptures, wood carvings, ceramic tiles, and photography.
The Portland Audubon Society pulled out all the stops for this year’s annual fundraising event. New in 2011, the festival sponsored a special “6 X 6 Wild Art Project.” 175 artists submitted bird-themed works of art on 6″ X 6″ canvases, each of which sold for $40. There were also 100 items waiting for bids in the silent auction. Plus, thirty local authors were on hand to sign autographs and talk about their books.
But the stars of the festival were clearly the half dozen raptors who appeared with their human handlers. The kestrels and the peregrine falcon were beautiful, but the largest crowds seemed drawn to the once infamous spotted owl, the great-horned owl, and the turkey vulture. Especially the vulture! The ugliest face I have ever seen, but when he stretched out his wings, even this ugly duckling became a work of art.