A celebration of Arts & Letters

Authors and artists will discuss and display their work during downtown Camas First Friday events on March 4

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Carrie Schulstad admires one of the pieces of artwork that's been submitted for Camas First Friday Arts and Letters. The event features an art contest for middle and high school students, as well as readings by local authors.

Downtown Camas will be transformed into a book and art lover’s venue next Friday.

Several local authors and students artists will have their work on display at different downtown shops as part of the “Arts and Letters,” Camas First Friday event on March 4.

The event, in its second year, is being organized by Carrie Schulstad, local business owner and board member of the Downtown Camas Association; and local author Randal Houle.

Houle was a featured author last year, and now is helping to organize the event as well as participating in it.

“Most of the authors from last year will be back, as well as a few new ones,” he said. “I really believe strongly in supporting the arts in our local community. I do a lot of things out of town, but it’s important to support the community we’re in. We have a thriving arts community here.”

Houle, who is writing full-time while seeking work, said that the recession has created a whole new crop of authors.

“People have turned to writing fiction,” he said. “There are writers born every minute.”

Currently, Houle is seeking representation on a mystery thriller he recently finished writing.

“I called it finished three years ago and then rewrote it three times,” he said. “It didn’t have the depth I was looking for.”

There are 11 authors who will be featuring their work at the event. From 6 to 8 p.m., they will be doing readings at Journey Community Church, 304 N.E. Fourth Ave. Each author is expected to take approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

The student art contest portion of the evening will feature artwork in different businesses. A list will be available at the The Uncommon Gift, 407 N.E. Fourth Ave., on the day of the event.

Entries for the contest are still being sought. Participants may drop off artwork to the The Uncommon Gift with an entry form attached until 4 p.m. Monday. Entry forms are located at

“Any middle or high schooler can enter this contest, whether or not they are in an art class,” Schulstad said. “We really want to showcase the incredible student talent. This event was very popular last year and brought a lot of people, and connected the school district to downtown. It was a fun night.”

The art contest will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. Authors will be in the stores (except when they are doing readings) from 5 to 7 p.m.

“Besides supporting the local talent, this is an opportunity to support the arts culture,” Schulstad said. “This is a family friendly way, community way to do that. This brings a lot to the community and enhances what we have here.”