This year, WACA chose performance artist and instructor Jeffree White and community member and educator Alice Yang as honorees
WASHOUGAL – Each year Washougal Arts and Culture Alliance (WACA) shines the spotlight on special leaders in public art by recognizing an artist and community member who have made significant contributions to the Washougal art scene. This year, WACA chose performance artist and instructor Jeffree White and community member and educator Alice Yang as honorees.
“We are fortunate to have such talented and inspirational people in our community who are devoted to the promotion of art,” said WACA President Molly Coston. “It is our honor to recognize Alice and Jeffree for their significant contributions.”
“It is remarkable to see the beauty and mastery of Alice’s students on display at Washougal Youth Arts Month (WYAM) Gallery each year,” commented WACA Board Member, Rene Carroll. “And although Jeffree no longer resides in our community, we believe his contributions to art in Washougal were significant and will live on.”
Alice Yang – Community Member Honoree
Alice Yang inspires young artists as the art teacher at Cape Horn-Skye Elementary and Canyon Creek Middle school. She has been a teacher for 17 years, a dedicated art teacher for 10 years, and recently earned her Masters in Art Education. Outside of the classroom, she has played a significant leadership role with WYAM, is a member of the Columbia River Arts and Cultural Foundation, is the liaison to Clark County Arts Commission for Washougal, and most recently was coordinator of the new Parkersville Day event student art contest.
“Last school year a second grader asked me with sincere curiosity if I liked my job,” Yang said. “I answered, ‘No. I LOVE my job.’ The young people in our community are a daily source of inspiration to me. By building relationships with my students, I learn what their interests are, which in turn guides my lessons.”
Yang believes the art room is where students, regardless of their future professions, find a safe space to explore ideas, examine and solve problems, learn skills like perseverance, and develop empathy. “Art by nature is inspirational,” she explained. “My students help me to maintain that drive.”
Through her school and community efforts, Yang’s goal is to help Washougal grow stronger together through art experiences. “Art allows us to speak about our values, fears, and joys. Bringing our community closer together is more important now than ever. With growing polarization, climate threats, and a never-ending stream of horrific news, we can turn to art to help process these trying times together…I want each community member to feel important, valued, and cared for,” she said. “This will help us to weather any storm that comes our way. Long live the arts!”
Recognition by WACA was not something Yang had imagined. “With all the dedicated and amazing community members I know are here in Washougal, I can think of so many others who deserve this honor,” she said. “I am both exhilarated and humbled by this recognition!”
Jeffree White – Artist Honoree
Jeffree White owned and operated Washougal School of Music for five years, before he and wife, Kelli Rule, moved to Ajijic, Mexico earlier this year. His significant contributions to Washougal art include: donations of musical performances at the Washougal Senior Center and at Washougal Art Festivals, performing at local establishments with multiple bands, helping businesses promote and develop their music programs, hosting a recital and open jam session during Washougal Youth Arts Month, performing at the City of Washougal Pirates in the Plaza/Park events multiple years, being a festival sponsor and donor to WACA and performer at WACA house concerts, and being selected to serve as a member of the Washougal Art Commission.
Giving back to the community with art was important for White. “I believe that people need to be uplifted with inspiring creations, and shown that art and music is participatory, not just consumptive,” he explained. “This can motivate people to be active in their community and give them purpose.”
White’s work with Washougal School of Music did not just serve beginners, or kids; a large percentage of his students were adults at an intermediate level or just starting an instrument. “I had an 81-year-old student,” White remarked. “Music is a life-long journey, and the styles to be explored from history and around the world are practically limitless. It’s also a healthy hobby to start up in later years.”
Teaching beginners is fun for White. “It is a new and exciting experience for students, and I get to participate in that joy,” he said. “I still teach several students in Washougal and Camas over Zoom. I miss in-person lessons because you can play together in real time; and obviously the sound quality in real life is better! It was mostly rewarding to be able to answer the need for individual music education in Washougal & Camas.”
White feels fortunate to have made the decision to move to Washougal. “At the time, the town had a real need for individual music instruction in the instruments and styles I offer, and that gave me the opportunity to serve the community, a most fulfilling endeavor, and a rewarding experience for all,” he said. “Washougal ended up being the perfect place for this chapter of my life.”
Currently White has joined the lively music scene in Ajijic and continues to play keyboards in a local jazz/pop band. He is working on his solo show, hosts rehearsals in his home music studio and has started playing weekly with a bluegrass musician, which may develop into a new incarnation of his band, Train River.
White was surprised and humbled by the recognition from WACA. “Being in my own bubble of a home-based business, I don’t always see the impact I make in the community over the years.” Closing the studio did result in an outpouring of appreciation and gratitude that gave White an impression of the value of his contributions. “This honor truly means a lot!” he added. “The folks in WACA are exceptional humans whom I greatly admire. And I know there are many worthy artists in the area!”
The 2022 WACA Honorees will be recognized at a gathering at 54°40’ in Washougal on Sept. 26h at 3 p.m. The public is invited. For more information go to www.washougalarts.org .
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