The Washougal Art Festival will look markedly different this year, morphing from a single-day in-person event to month-long social media showcase. But its mission of promoting the work of local and regional artists will remain exactly the same.
The 2020 version of the annual event, which highlights the work of 25 participating artists, will be held throughout August on the Washougal Arts and Culture Alliance’s (WACA) website and social media pages.
The artists’ work will be presented in photos, videos and other digital representations.
“Our website will be the hub, and from there people will be able to access (the festival) through our Facebook and Instagram pages,” WACA president Kelli Rule said. “(The festival) will be social media-driven. We’re trying to rally for exposure and drive sales for the artists with posts, direct links to objects on their website, media articles and their Patreon accounts. We’ll do our best to give the artists the attention they deserve. We’ll also try to have some interactive elements as well.”
Rule said the festival will “be different in a lot of ways, some of which we haven’t anticipated yet.”
“(For the future), I can definitely see a blending of an in-person festival and a month-long event where each artist is spotlighted in a meaningful way,” she said. “In years past, we did promotions on social media leading up to the event, but they were more like, ‘This is one of the artists. Isn’t their work nice?’ I think (a more robust campaign) would do a lot more for artists as far as driving sales.”
Portland resident Kyla Friedrichsmeyer, a first-time festival participant, said she is looking forward to showing off her work, which incorporates elements of traditional media such as watercolor, ink and graphite, and, according to the artist’s website, “depicts components of the human condition using floral and fauna combined with anatomical elements.”
“I’m just happy that (the festival) is still happening, and appreciate (WACA’s) problem-solving skills,” said Friedrichsmeyer, who works as a designer and illustrator at Reed Creative in Washougal. “You kind of have to prepare a bit differently for it; it’s a similar process, but you’re paying a lot more attention to your online (presence) instead of preparing a physical set-up. I think it’s great that (WACA is) giving one day to each artist. That should really help to promote our work.”
“I’m lucky because my boyfriend does videography, and I’ve wanted to do something like (a video) for awhile,” she added. “I appreciate the chance to do something like this. It got a fire going in me to do things that I already wanted to do. (Making the video) was a lot of fun, and I hope all other artists have fun too.”
Camas resident India de Landa, also a first-time festival participant, said that while she enjoyed the process of creating a video of her work and is looking forward to the festival, she doesn’t believe that a virtual format is ideal for art events.
“I’m a little hesitant because I think for all types of art, you need to see it, touch it, try it on, or get a better sense of the colors or size of it,” said de Landa, who makes geometric jewelry. “When you’re out with your friends on a beautiful August day, drinking a latte, you’ll ‘oh’ and ‘ah’ over something, and (make) an ‘impulse buy.’ When you’re selling your art online, there’s no impulse, and it requires several extra steps.”
“(But) I’m excited about my video. I know it will be very different from everybody else’s. I learned a lot, and now I’m on a roll. I’m ‘videoing’ all the time.”
Rule said that while the artists’ response to the virtual format was mostly positive, “overall a lot of them have been struggling” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“To not be able to meet potential patrons face-to-face, that has to be really hard,” she said. “When you buy an original work, you’re not only buying that object, but you’re investing in that person. For some, this (festival) is going to be really great, and for others it’s going to be a big disappointment as far as the benefits of virtual vs. in-person.”