Public art trail coming to Oregon

Georgia Gerber's "Tufted Puffins," a sculpture outside Cannon Beach City Hall. The sculpture is included in the Oregon Coast Art Trail.

As a modern homage to the Oregon Trail, the Oregon Coast Visitors Association is developing a public art trail that will stretch from Astoria to the California border.

The idea of the program is to connect and promote existing public statues, murals and more in each of the Oregon Coast’s 27 communities. The visitors association is working to catalogue these pieces to create a comprehensive map of all the art in the public sphere for a self-guided tour by next year.

Some of what would be featured in Clatsop County includes the Astoria Column, the Lewis and Clark statue at the Seaside Turnaround, and the tufted puffin sculpture by Cannon Beach City Hall.

“The goal of this project is to help residents and visitors connect with artists, gain a deeper sense of place, and improve artists’ livelihoods,” said Marcus Hinz, the visitors association’s executive director.

Part of the inspiration came from a desire to connect and elevate the work artists have long been doing on the coast into one cohesive guide. Kevan Ridgway, the chairman of the marketing committee at the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce, is using this year to gather any documentation he can find about coastal artists and taking community suggestions about what should be featured on the trail.

There are only 10 cities along the coast without any form of public art. An objective for this project is to work on ways to find funding to introduce art into these communities. One of the ways Ridgway plans to do this is by partnering with the environmental cleanup group SOLVE, which would contribute materials for marine debris-related art to make the endeavor more cost-effective for the artists and the towns.

“Public art is a form of community expression,” Ridgway said. “So for visitors, public art is a great way to learn about a place. Hopefully the Oregon Coast Art Trail will entice patrons of the arts to wander into local galleries, inquire about local theater performances, or plan a future visit to explore more of the art trail.”

While the ultimate goal is to encourage visitors to visit the area in the fall, spring and winter months, Ridgway believes it will contribute just as much for the residents of the coast, he said.

“This will connect visitors and residents with artists,” Ridgway said. “We don’t want to do something that doesn’t add value for the residents.”

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