Washougal eyes an arts commission

Advocates want artist studios, performing arts center near waterfront

Soon-to-be former Washougal City Councilwoman Joyce Lindsay is continuing her legacy of advocating for the arts, by supporting the creation of a Washougal Arts Commission.

With seed money of $5,000 — funded by donations, gifts and general fund appropriations determined annually by the City Council — the arts commission would include five to nine members representing painters, sculptors, musicians, landscape architects, art historians and performing artists, as well as individuals who have an interest in the artistic and cultural development of Washougal. At least two of the arts commission members would be Washougal residents.

Arts commissioners would identify projects that could benefit from artists’ involvement and develop policies for the acquisition, display and presentation and placement of public artwork. They would also select artists to be commissioned and provide advice to the city administrator regarding maintenance of public artwork.

Lindsay, a Washougal Arts and Culture Alliance (WACA) board member, said public art should have some city oversight.

The alliance has installed several art pieces that belong to the city.

“It is important for the city to have a say about the art that is coming into the city,” Lindsay said, during the May 14 City Council meeting.

After attending the May 12 and 13 Washougal Studio Artists Tour, Lindsay said she was surprised how many artists live in the downtown Washougal area.

Angela Ridgway, a contemporary welded metal artist, coordinated the first-time tour that involved 10 studios and 18 artists. She said approximately 50 percent of the attendees visited two or more studio locations.

The event, held during Mother’s Day weekend, attracted visitors from Everett and Port Angeles, Washington, as well as Indiana, Wisconsin and California.

“The event surpassed our expectations,” Ridgway said. “It was such a great show of support for the artists on the tour, and the visitors were all so appreciative of the event itself. Everyone was excited to go to the studios, talk to the artists and see the artwork they create.”

Ridgway added that there are plans to hold a Washougal Studio Artists Tour in 2019.

In Lindsay’s last meeting before she moves to the Bellingham area, she and other City Council members are expected to vote on the creation of an arts commission during the next regular council meeting at 7 p.m., Tuesday, May 29, in City Hall.

City Administrator David Scott said it would likely take two to three months to get a commission up and running. The commission would have no spending authority, and it would serve as an advisory body to the City Council.

Councilman Ray Kutch said he would want someone from the business community to serve on the arts commission, so that person can advise the council regarding art that would bring more people to downtown Washougal.

Several members of the arts community vocalized their support for artists’ studio space and a performing arts center near the waterfront during a workshop Monday, with the Port of Camas-Washougal Commissioners.

Gina Mariotti Shapard, a leader of the Integrated Arts and Academics program at Camas High School, said there is a shortage of performance spaces for students.

Martha Martin, of Washougal, spoke in favor of a multi-purpose facility where artwork would be displayed and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra could perform.

Port Commissioner John Spencer talked about the potential for a “cultural center,” which could include a community, conference and performing arts center near Washougal Waterfront Park and Trail.

“It could be surrounded by restaurants and retail that would make beaucoup bucks,” Spencer said.

During the port workshop, there were also discussions regarding the potential development of an art walk involving representatives of Camas and Washougal.