This weekend we will hold the 6th annual Sammamish Arts Fair, and we`ve used this platform to tell you about the group of artists who are looking forward to sharing their work with you. In an increasingly small world, it’s easy to be connected to artists from all over the world, and that can be incredibly enriching and valuable. Yet local art plays an important part in the quality of our community, and uniquely expresses the influences, perspectives, and materials of the Puget Sound region. When you visit another city or country, do you seek out the franchise and chain businesses that you can patronize anywhere? Most of us want to experience the local businesses and vendors who appeal to us for their one-of-a-kind spin on what they market. Here are some reasons why local art matters:
Local art reflects local influences such as nature, climate, materials, colors (or the need to infuse them!), culture, and attitude. Some art emerges here because of the unique set of physical and cultural circumstances that are part of the local rhythm of life. You`ll see it in the “nature” influences which drive many of our artists. You’ll see it in the colors of glass, fiber arts, ceramics, or paintings. It is reflected in the sense of humor present in our artists and often in their work. Our wood artists specialize in materials that grow here, our wood carver reflects the culture that drives his forms. Even our sculptor who designs with “junk” does so with the fine patina of rust brought to you by a moist climate.
Local art adds character…and sometimes literally adds engaging characters to our population. Our artists have fascinating back stories. Some got to where they are in surprising ways. Some achieved success in completely different careers, only to change gears when circumstances allowed. Many patiently marked time in jobs that paid the bills, eking out time to explore their dreams. All of them take chances, make themselves vulnerable by putting their work out in the public, and to share a personal passion for something with strangers. There is the risk of being judged, or misunderstood, or considered self indulgent. Imagine what it takes to willingly face that for the sake of being able to share what you do with others. That takes guts, hope, and character.
Local art gives back. Many of our makers are also teachers, patiently sharing, teaching by doing, enabling others to learn about the art work, the techniques, the materials, the tools. While it can be wonderful to travel to other places to learn, not everyone has the means, or the means to frequently do so. Makers who teach locally are a tremendous community learning resource.
Local art creates its own sense of community. Many of us belong to artEAST, Fall City Arts, EAFA, or other local art groups which provide the support of other makers; art is often a solitary activity and many artists do what they do in a state of partial isolation. We know the importance of surrounding ourselves with others committed to encouragement, creating opportunities, giving moral support, and connecting with like-minded energies. Our artist run arts fair is a temporary community of people working together, the experienced helping the new, the trading of information and suggestions, in the creation of opportunity for each other. Many of us depart the annual process with significant new friendships and renewal of older connections. It is a community and a reminder that people working together can dim the noise about world problems for a while and contribute beauty.
Local art benefits the local economy. Certainly the economics of art purchases are important, and the majority of money spent locally stays in the local economy. Artists need the financial validation both to continue to work as well as to know the work is appreciated. Yet a significant element of the benefit to the local economy comes in the form of the volunteer engine which powers most art groups and events. Artists donate thousands of hours of their time to create opportunities like art walks which then populate restaurants with patrons, creating vibrant neighborhoods and thriving businesses. These are community-based economics that are real and meaningful. Investing in local art is an investment back into the local economy.
Our Sammamish Arts Fair event is on an intimate scale, 30 of us, having organized and staged this event ourselves. It`s small so we can engage people in what we do. We gratefully receive sponsorship from the City of Sammamish (and the wonderful staff), The Sammamish Arts Commission (who supports the art experience activities), and 4Culture. Yet the heavy lifting, the promotion, the organization, the staging, and the cleanup, comes from the participating artists. We do it because we love it and we want it to happen for Sammamish.
Come see us this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, October 13th and 14th from 10am to 5pm both days. We`ll be at Sammamish City Hall and the Commons. Mayor Tom Odell and his wife, Ruth, will be on hand at 10am on Saturday for a ribbon-cutting opening. And then it will be all about why local art matters.
More particulars at http://sammamishartsfair.wordpress.com/
Editor's note: To see all the artist profiles posted by Anne Randall in advance of the Sammamish Arts Fair, follow this link.