By Leah Weissman
Pilot staff writer
"This is a historic moment," Brookings resident Horst Wolf said to a crowd of soggy smiles and umbrellas during the Second Saturday Art Walk on May 10. "We have the first Art Walk Alley in Brookings!"
The crowd of almost 100 community members erupted in applause and, despite the rain that had begun to fall, the throng marched down the newly-proclaimed Art Walk Alley that connects Oak and Willow streets playing drums, singing and dancing in the misty air.
"It's a magical place," Brookings resident and Art Walk Alley celebration coordinator Lynn Guild said about the alley. "It symbolizes the artists, crafts people, dramatists and musicians that live and work in this community."
During Brookings' monthly art walk, the alley is usually filled with residents and tourists walking from one art gallery to the next. Music drifts from the gallery windows, and the voices of local musicians and singers entertaining art walk visitors can be heard in the alley below.
"The art walk following is getting bigger and bigger and, with the opening of the alley, I hope to see children and parents participating more," Guild said. "I want to open the art walks up to more people in the community."
Guild said the art community had been toying with the idea of naming the alley Art Walk Alley for some time.
"The process had gotten bogged down, so I kind of picked it up because I have great love for this alley," she said.
According to Guild, naming the alley was a bit of a process. The name change had to be petitioned, and all the property owners bordering the alley had to give their OK.
"Which they did graciously," Guild said. "They are all extremely supportive of the growth of art in Brookings."
Next, Guild approached the Brookings Planning Department for an application to name the alley.
"The planning department actually had to change a code to see the alley got its name," Guild said. "This is the first alley to be named in Brookings."
With the help of Dianne Morris, director for the Brookings Planning Department, all the paper work and legalities were handled in a few weeks.
When the proposal was finally brought to the Brookings Planning Commission, Guild said the commissioners were as excited as she was about the naming.
"The artists here are incredible and very strong community supporters," Guild said. "When they see a need in the community, they do everything they can to help ... it was time for us to support them."
With the naming of Art Walk Alley granted by the city, Guild and a group of local artists and musicians, including Wolf and musicians Billie Ruth and Shirley Hyatt, started planning a huge celebration for the May art walk.
"I petitioned the city for three things," Guild said. "First, to proclaim May 10 as Art Walk Alley Day. Second, to close the ally that day so we could have a party. And third, to make it a sunny day. They got two out of three."
Even though the dark clouds started to leak right as the celebration begin at 5 p.m., the rain didn't deter people from having a good time.
In the Curry Coastal Pilot parking lot, Brookings-Harbor High School art students gathered around three canvases and painted a mural of the Brookings coastline with the sun rising over the Chetco River and setting north into the ocean.
Children and parents made paper crowns at an arts and crafts table, while residents drew chalk drawings on the alley. One person wrote "The Happiest Alley On Earth" in pink writing.
A stage set up in the empty lot between the Pieces of Time and Touch of the Past buildings featured local musicians playing in the rain above a sea of dancing umbrellas and rain jackets.
Guild and Wolf addressed the rain-soaked crowd of residents, city and county officials and visitors, thanking everyone who had braved the weather to be at the celebration.
"We need to work together to make Brookings-Harbor even better, and this alley proves it!" Guild exclaimed above the cheers of the audience.
After marching through the alley and around the block, everyone congregated back at the stage for a ceremonious ribbon cutting.
Brookings-Harbor Chamber of Commerce President Les Cohen congratulated the art community for getting the alley named, and said, "The Second Saturday Art Walk has been a terrific addition to this city. Every business should be open during it, because they have customers at their doors."
As Wolf cut through the satin red ribbon with giant scissors, City of Brookings Mayor Larry Anderson also spoke to the spectators.
"The art community has struggled a long time in Brookings, and a lot of you committed to its success," Anderson said. "So let's keep it moving forward!"
Members of the Chetco Pelican Players sang songs from their current production "Oliver" and, as the rain fell harder, everyone walked to the Central Gallery for dancing, live music and more fun.
"It all went extremely well," Guild said. "The alley celebration shows that the art community is important, viable, exciting and growing. I am delighted to be associated with these people."