The small town of La Conner has been a center for the arts for many years, with its surprising number of galleries and museums. Every November it becomes even more so, when Art’s Alive! makes the town an even greater hotbed of art than usual. An annual, volunteer-run invitational art show in downtown La Conner, Art’s Alive! demonstrates the passion and involvement that the town can produce. Spotlighting a different group of Pacific Northwest artists each year, the show brings visitors from all over.
Founded in 1985, Art’s Alive! was created by a group of La Conner residents as a way to promote both local art and local business, as well as to liven up the town’s slow season. For many years the show involved art pop-ups all over town, hosted by businesses or various organizations, but those have dwindled in favor of the main show. Since 2020, Art’s Alive! has been presented by the non-profit La Conner Arts Foundation, whose motto is “Good Deeds Through the Arts.” They award scholarships to aspiring visual artists, help fund education in the performing arts, and promote public artworks. Each piece sold at Art’s Alive! contributes directly to scholarships.
The show, which is still put on almost entirely by volunteers and is funded by grants and the City of La Conner, is now held at Maple Hall at the south end of downtown La Conner. Invited artists are featured in the downstairs hall, with a juried open art exhibit upstairs. Doors open at 1 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 10, letting people view the art before the evening gala from 5–8 p.m. Opening night is always well attended and the work sells quickly. The show continues on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Monday from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Admission is free.
The show includes visual art of all kinds. This year’s featured artist is Craig J. Barber, a Skagit based photographer and author. His project over the last few years has been to document the farms and farm workers of Skagit Valley in all seasons, combining photos and oral histories to create a picture of the vast amount of effort that goes into growing food, and the lives of the people who grow it. The photographs he has taken for this project are part of this year’s Art’s Alive! exhibition, giving it its theme, “Northwest Focus.”
Other invitational artists for this year’s show include Dennis Allen, a Skokomish Elder and Master Carver, Joan Enslin, an abstract painter from Camano Island, Deborah Henderson, a pastel artist from Olympia, Kristen Ingman, a Bellingham landscape painter, Janie Olsen, who creates magical animal portraits, Teresa Smith, who paints abstract landscapes, impressionistic painter Christine Troyer, watercolorist Peggy Woods, Liz Moncrief, a national award-winning handweaver, and textile and mixed media artist Terri Shinn of Snohomish.
After taking in the invitational exhibit, don’t forget to go upstairs to see the open juried exhibit, which features more than 50 other artists. Work can also be viewed on the Art’s Alive! website in advance of the show. 104 Commercial St., La Conner, 360.466.4524, artsalivelaconner.com