Organizers hope to make first Sunday after Thanksgiving an annual event to celebrate the arts and artists
There is a new way to promote the arts during the holidays, and dozens of local artists are taking part in a national movement.
“The arts are the conveyor belt of culture in our world,” said LaRae Zawodny, the chair of the Clark County Arts Commission. “I think the arts really bring together generations, other cultures. They help us understand each other.”
The hope is that the conveyor belt will be at top speed on Nov. 29, bringing the gift of art to the masses as part of Artists Sunday.
There is Black Friday. And Small-Business Saturday. And Cyber Monday. This year, Artists Sunday premieres, celebrating art and promoting its sales throughout the country on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. The sales are all online, with thousands of artists throughout the country putting links to their work on one giant site.
Currently, there are more than two dozen Clark County artists who have signed up to participate.
“It’s a new thing. I’m willing to see what it’s about. I’m seeing that because of all that’s going on right now, virtual has got to be the way. Getting someone to come to your studio is next to impossible,” said Vancouver artist Tom Relth, a painter.
“I’m 72 years old. I’m a lifetime learner. I appreciate trying new things to do. Artists Sunday is a new adventure. We’ll see what it does.”
Jennifer Williams of Ridgefield is a board member of Artstra, a nonprofit advocacy group designed to elevate the arts in Southwest Washington. That group’s Clark County Open Studios Tour was called off this year due to the pandemic. In fact, many artists lost most of their opportunities to showcase their work this year.
“We as artists have to adjust to the conditions that are thrown at us,” said Williams, a painter. “Artists Sunday is a movement to promote and support art and artists.”
While the Artists Sunday website lists thousands of artists all over the country, she hopes Artists Sunday will be a reminder to support local artists.
She is confident that this is just the beginning, as well.
“I know this is going to grow and become something bigger,” Williams said.
Kathy Marty of Washougal said she is excited about the potential for Artists Sunday.
“I think it’s fantastic. We kind of get lost in the shuffle of Amazon … and all the big guys with their sales out there,” said Marty, who weaves rugs. “I think it’s a great idea. I hope it takes off. So many people seem to be interested in it.”
The website, artistssunday.com, asks visitors to “shop art” this season.
“There’s perhaps nothing more personal than a gift of the arts,” the site claims.
There is also a directory of artists. Clark County Today searched for all artists in Washington state, then found all the artists from Clark County. The list is below.
Among the local artists who have signed up are Relth, Williams, and Marty.
Relth is both a contemporary abstract and landscape painter, working generally on larger format canvas, paper, and wood panels, according to his website, relth.org.
He has a masters in fine arts but worked 35 years in commerce before returning to the arts. He moved to Casablanca, Morocco, where he became an arts teacher. He also resumed his own painting. He now has a studio in Vancouver.
“We all seek meaning in life. My art is an attempt to create a kind of beauty and point to the divine,” Relth said.
Williams was always drawing as she grew up in north Clark County.
“I was always everyone’s artist, going through school. People came to me for things,” she recalled. “I didn’t start painting until college.”
Now, she has her own studio in Ridgefield.
“Using thick textures and atmospheric layers, my images reference the Pacific Northwest where the sky and water are constantly moving and nature in a state of change,” she says on her site: jenniferwilliamsfineart.com.
Her work means more to her today, as well.
“During these times, art has really been a saving grace,” Williams said. “I am a professional artist. It is my livelihood. But when COVID happened, all of a sudden I realized art is also my escape.”
Williams also appreciates being able to express herself.
“Art is a way to communicate those things that can’t be put into words,” she said.
Marty of Windy Hill Weavers in Washougal, fell in love with weaving in college. She was a sculpture major, but took a weaving class and was intrigued.
She took a 35-year break, though, and returned to weaving just three years ago. Marty uses wool selvage from Pendleton Woolen Mills to create her eco-friendly reversible rugs.
“It brings me a lot of joy,” Marty said. “It’s challenging. It’s frustrating sometimes. Just like anything you love to do, you try to work through the roadblocks. Once you come out of the other side, ‘Oh, I did it. This is fun.’”
Now, her website, windyhillweavers.com, is listed as part of Artists Sunday.
There is still time for other artists to sign up, as well.
“This is a chance to connect,” Williams said. “As individuals, we can work hard and be successful, but we are stronger when we come together. In facing a pandemic of this magnitude … seeking connection is more important than ever before.”
Here is the list of Clark County artists who have signed up for Artists Sunday as of Nov. 18:
• Bellavara Studio, Washougal
• Betsy Soifer (Recycle with Soifer), Vancouver
• Cathie Joy Young, Vancouver
• Cheryl Hazen, Battle Ground
• Cynthia Mosser, Vancouver
• Frederick Jones, Vancouver
• Hilarie Couture/ H.Couture Arts, Vancouver
• India de Landa, Camas
• Jackie Stewart Art, Ridgefield
• Jane Degenhardt, Vancouver
• Jane Wolfe, Vancouver
• Jeff Gracz – Elemental Images, Vancouver
• Jennifer Williams Fine Art, Ridgefield
• Jill Mayberg Art, Vancouver
• John Knoten, Vancouver
• Kelly Neidig, Vancouver
• Kenneth E. Meyer, Battle Ground
• Kim Eshelman, Battle Ground
• Linda Kliewer, Battle Ground
• Michelle Allen, Vancouver
• Nancy Jacobson, Ridgefield
• Orange Bead Art, La Center
• Shirley Bishop – Glass Artist, Washougal
• Studio C – S. Grover & C. Hale, Washougal
• Stefanie Adams, Yacolt
• Tamara Dinius, Washougal
• Terri Shinners, Vancouver
• Tom Relth, Vancouver
• Toni McCarthy, Camas
• Upswings Jewelry, Vancouver
• Windy Hill Weavers – Kathy Marty, Washougal
• Wisepots, Vancouver