A touch of creativity is returning to the Canby area, as a group of local downtown business owners announced this week they have revived the Canby Arts Association and are celebrating its return with a brand-new festival, the Through the Looking Glass Arts Festival, this summer in Wait Park.
The Canby Arts Association is a volunteer-managed nonprofit organization with a rich history in Canby.
Founded in 1982, it grew out of the earlier efforts of a group of local artists known as the Canby Art Squad and did much to shape the community fabric so many residents now enjoy, including founding the original General Canby Days and leading the construction of the iconic gazebo in Wait Park.
The group spearheaded the Canby centennial murals on the historic police building by prolific muralist Larry Kangas, and was also helped launch the Slice of Summer concert series and Canby Wine and Arts Festival, as well as the Richard Brown Fine Arts Center at Canby High School.
But it had lain dormant for several years before Shelley and Eric Arndt, of Art-O-Maddic, Paul and Megan Waterman, of The Book Nook, and Kayla DeShazer, of Spark Social Media Solutions, came on board.
The new Board of Directors has quietly laid the groundwork for this week’s announcement over the past several months — though the Arndts said the idea has been percolating since they opened their downtown art gallery and makerspace last June.
Shelley Arndt explained that the organization’s longtime chair, Laura Sattler, had approached them to ask if they would be interested in resurrecting the group.
“After meeting with her we agreed to do this for the community and brought in Megan, Paul and Kayla to help see the vision through,” she said. “We are so thankful to Laura for passing the torch to us.”
The timing was auspicious considering 2022 marks the 40th anniversary of the Canby Arts Association. The group plans to lean into its past history and achievements, including in rebuilding its brand.
“We wanted to make the logo featuring the gazebo in Wait Park, so we could pay homage to the Canby Arts Association who donated it back in 1983,” DeShazer said.
The new arts festival, which is set for 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 23, will feature art, authors, food vendors and more.
“I would say the closest festival that is similar is the Oregon City Arts Festival,” Shelley Arndt explained. “However, they do not have literary arts. We would like to celebrate all arts in all forms, even culinary.”
To that end, organizers are encouraging their food vendors to lean into the artistic and creative spirit of the festival with themed menu items.
“Take the risk,” Shelley said. “Make something that no one has seen from you. We want our artists and vendors to think outside of the box, because this festival is outside of the box.”
It’s also a lot of work, she admitted.
“The steps of planning an art festival are very involved,” she said. “Venue, artists, authors, food vendors, banners, decorations, the name, etc. Typically you would have 12 committees handling the different areas of the festival. Because this is our first year, we are all taking on double duty.”
Organizers are hoping volunteers and community sponsors will help put on this year’s festival. More details on the needs and how to help will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead.
“We hope that through the revival of the Canby Arts Association as well as the creation of the Through the Looking Glass Arts Festival we will be able to help foster and celebrate the talented creators that live right here in our area,” Megan Waterman said.
“By showcasing visual, literary and musical art at the festival we hope to create a unique and fun family-friendly experience.”
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