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Portland's Wild Arts Festival

It’s been a very busy month in Portland, Oregon even with the holiday season in full swing. I went on another outing around town and this time my travails took me to the Wild Arts Festival. This festival is hosted each year by the Audubon Society of Portland and this year was my first time attending. One might ask: What does this have to do with science fiction, fantasy or even Tolkien and Middle Earth? To that question I would have to say, nothing, directly. However, art in and of itself is, in my opinion, related to fantasy in that it has the power to represent beauty and it can raise up themes and ideas important in the culture, in society and in ways that can capture one’s imagination just like fantasy and science fiction storytelling can. One thing I’ve noticed in Tolkien’s work is deep respect for the natural world and that was the theme at this festival: the natural world. Skilled art work and beautiful craftsmanship is what I saw. No “blinking lights in a room” or mud splattered on broken toilets being passed off as art here.

The Audubon Society of Portland promotes and focuses on the care of local bird wildlife in the Pacific Northwest. The Wild Arts Festival that the society hosts invites local and national artists and authors who focus on story-telling, craft-work or artwork that showcase the natural world and its wildlife. I also noticed that Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series was prominent there as well. So I suppose fantasy is tangentially related. What was most impressive is that many of the artists I saw and even bought work from have been show-cased on Oregon Art Beat, a TV show on PBS that showcases our artistic talent here in Oregon. In a way, it was like hobnobbing with celebrities. They had a few birds there for attendees to see. Unfortunately, by the time I got around to take pictures of these dear birds my camera decided to stop cooperating. You can watch my little slideshow of the festival below.

It was a very rainy day but no matter, all the colorful and beautiful artwork and crafts more than made up for the gray. I ended up buying some wonderful works, my favorite pieces being from Dean Crouser. His water-color works are quite magnificent and a poster featuring his artwork is what first attracted me to the festival and convinced me to check it out. It took place on November 17th and 18th so it is long done and finished but I hope that my own video and the video from the Audubon Society of Portland will convince you, where ever you may live, to support your own local artists and authors.

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