Founders of Art Walk, port market step down

By Jane Stebbins, Pilot staff writer August 11, 2012 09:03 am

Two long-standing, reoccurring Saturday Brookings events – The Second Saturday Art Walk and the Farmers and Artisans Market – will be shutting down for good come this fall – unless someone steps in and takes over.

Brookings Artist Horst Wolf has high hopes the Second Saturday Art Walk will take on a life of its own afteru he and co-coordinator Sandy Bonney step down after the Oct. 13 event.

Meanwhile, Vi Burton, organizer of the Farmers and Artisans Market on the Port of Brookings Harbor market announced this is the last season for her event.



Both events had seven-year runs, are popular among locals and visitors alike and, if they do close their doors and fold up their tents, their absence would tear a hole in the fabric of the community, said Lynn Guild, an art walk special-event organizer.

Wolf cites age and fatigue among the reasons.

Vi and her husband, Len, want to move on to other things.

If the Second Saturday Art Walk isn’t picked up by someone with more energy and enthusiasm, the last one – the 100th – will be held Oct. 13, Wolf said. Coincidentally, that’s the same day Burton plans to quit the market, although that’s merely because it’s the last day of the farmer’s market season.

“Let’s face it,” Wolf said. “Why did we do it? To publicize artists. Why don’t we give others a chance to do it and have a little publicity? We’re just getting tired. It’s got to run by itself, and it can.”

The Burtons took over the Farmer’s Market seven years ago to make a little pocket change and help farmers – and later, artisans – showcase their wares.

Strolling through art

Pete Chasar, who is active in the local arts community, heard the art walk will be in limbo unless someone else steps up. He said he hopes a younger generation takes on the reins and puts a new spin on it.

Wolf and artist Dale Wells were in Coos Bay in the spring of 2004 when they saw that city’s art walk.

“It was sort of not-too-great,” Wolf said. “There were four stores, none of them were a real gallery. On the way home, we thought, ‘If Coos Bay can do it, we can do it.’”

They started with four venues and an attitude that if it had anything to do with the word ‘art,’ they’d accept it.

In the ensuing years, the art walk has had as many as 18 venues and associated artists: musicians, painters, dancers, fabric artisans, glass art – anything and everything. They added cooking, embroidery, crochet, gardening and flower arrangement as special events.

“Cooking – a chef is an artist. Embroidery, making scarves by hand – all these things,” Wolf said. “We tried to get a lady from the beauty parlor,” Wolf said. “To do a nice hair is a piece of art.”

Wolf, himself an artist of regional renown, now just wants to sit at home, paint and watch birds. He will still participate – “Yes! Sure! Of course! Absolutely!” he answered in response to that question.

Other things come into play, as well, Chasar said. The economy has deterred people from buying art. Schools are putting arts on the chopping block.

The potential loss of support saddens many.

“The loss of this would be a loss in a number of ways,” Guild said. “Art raises us above ourselves, and such a loss drops us down.”

She noted that people would miss the community camaraderie and young artists would have fewer role models from whom to mentor.

Art walkers and merchants are weary, as well, Wolf said. Attendance has been dropping off.

“Some get tired very fast,” Wolf said. “People want something. (One must) really put energy into it, otherwise it doesn’t work. And people smell that.”

“It shouldn’t be hard; it should be a celebration, a lifting of spirits,” Guild said. “And it’s become hard.”

“I have good confidence someone will take over,” Wolf said. “It’s just a matter of starting and doing it.”

“The artisans and craftspeople in this community – without exception – give their time, give their incredible products to support the community,” Guild said. “They donate to special events, teach without recompense. They are so passionate about the importance of arts and the importance of supporting the community; they will do anything to further those causes.

“The community has reaped an incredible benefit from their generosity,” she added. “They have opened doors to tourism that were not available before they came on the scene. The Wild Rivers Coast is an incredibly magical place. And one reason is the artists who live here.”

“I don’t think it’s going to fold, but if it does, it’ll be a slow process,” Chasar said. “I’m optimistic that people want to keep it going. People look forward to it, as well. Unless someone really steps up and fills the gap, it could fade. We’ll have to wait and see; it has yet to shake out. Someone needs to keep this going.”

“There will always be people who keep it going,” Guild added. “But it’s synergistic. You have these people who come together, and what they do is incredible. And there have been many times of ‘incredible’ in the art walk.”

Farmers market

On any given summer Saturday afternoon, people can be found strolling the boardwalk at the Port of Brookings Harbor, sampling local jams, taking in the aromas of freshly baked muffins or feeling the texture of a hand-woven, alpaca scarf.

Like the Second Saturday Art Walk in Brookings, the popular Farmers Market will end Oct. 13 unless someone steps up to take over. Unlike the art walk, however, organizer Vi Burton is working with a vendor – she declined to give a name – who might take over the event.

But if he doesn’t, the farmer’s market could also fade away like last spring’s wilting lily, said Vi Burton, who with her oil-painting husband, took over the market seven years ago.

The event, held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each Saturday on the boardwalk at the Port of Brookings Harbor, attracts an average of 25 vendors. Last weekend, 49 vendors were selling their wares.

Farmers sell fruits and vegetables, two bakeries sell artisan breads, and artists peddle their handcrafted one-of-a-kind items: wood, fiber arts, photography, jewelry.

“We do not permit anything that’s mass produced, made in China,” Vi said. “It has to be made by the person, made in America.”

The couple are ready for some time for themselves, to do something different, she said.

That might include travel, participating in other shows in the area or merely puttering around in the garden. They plan to continue as artists in the local market – if it stays afloat.

“There are other shows in the community,” she said. “The Christmas bazaar, Slammin’ Salmon, The azalea fest. And we have work in different shops in town. We don’t want people to forget us, of course.”

Not likely.

The Burtons took over the market in 2005, changed the name to better reflect the mixture of produce and arts and struggled to find a venue until merchants at the port called and asked her to hold it there.

She doesn’t know yet if she’ll miss the work, which involves everything from selecting vendors and securing insurance to drawing the chalk lines for the booths on the boardwalk the morning of the event.

“We’re both planners,” she said with a laugh. “We like to plan and organize, get something new and develop it and get it going. Maybe we’ll promote ourselves.”

She hopes the interested vendor decides to take over the operation.

“The community has enjoyed it,” Burton said. “I would hate to see it end; maybe it will end. If no one comes forth, it could be the end of Saturday Market.”