Interview with Amy Anderson and Greg Holland:
Proposed Alsea Bay Center For The Arts
The Yachats Gazette spoke with Amy, artist and secretary for the Waldport Arts Group, and Greg, Waldport councilor, about the forming of an Alsea Bay Center for the Arts based in Waldport, Oregon.
TYG-GD: Can you go start us from the beginning and explain what the process is, what is happening, the story around the Center?
Greg: Basically, when I moved here from Los Angeles, I got on the city council in Waldport. I was bugging the Mayor, and I said, "Why isn't there any art activity in Waldport? You need public art." And I kept bugging the mayor, and she said, "Well, if you want public art, why don't you do something about it?" So I said, "Okay, fine! I'll form the Waldport Arts Group." So I founded it, and found great people like Amy, and other good people to form a board. We've been talking for the last two years about finding a building, because we thought that if we found a building, they would come to us: the artists, the community. A building has become available: the Umpqua Bank. The people have moved out, they've turned the building over to the city, and the city is going to have a request for proposals from all types of groups in the City of Waldport.
Amy: Everybody is invited to submit a proposal, so we're not the only ones in line for this building. But we're working really hard to make ours the best proposal.
TYG-GD: When is the RFP due?
Amy: We don't have any idea. They haven't even started writing it.
Greg: We're trying to get a head start.
Amy: We're trying to get ramped up so when that RFP comes out, we're going to nail it. [laughs]
Greg: We want the community enthused and supporting the project already.
Amy: So that's what started ramping us up, is that we found out that the Umpqua Bank building was going to be available. The minute we found that out, we started contacting local and state government, businesses, artists, youth, and everybody, every stakeholder we could think of in the community. We're trying to reach out to everybody and saying, "Let's come together and make this something great for all of us."
TYG: Have you contacted Jessica Treon?
Amy: Yes, Jessie's aware—she's very, very busy right now, but she's definitely shown her interest.
TYG: Because it's currently in a church, out of the way a bit, up in Toledo.
Amy: Wow. Well see, that's something that would be really great. We are planning for the Alsea Bay Center for the Arts [ABCA] to serve all of South County. I want to make that really clear up front.
Greg: It's Seal Rock, all the way to Yachats.
TYG-Graphic Design: Does Toledo count in that?
Amy: Not really. I mean, if they want to play ball, or they want to partner with us at some point...
Amy: Yes—we wouldn't leave them out. But geographically...
TYG: South of Newport?
Amy: We don't want to be exclusive of anybody. But we do want to focus on South County, because especially in the Waldport area, we have so very, very little in the way of cultural assets and support for the arts. So we're sort of looking at Waldport as the geographic center of the Center, and then it will resonate out from there.
Greg: Especially when you have things like [Crestview Heights] taking away the art teacher at the Elementary School next year.
Amy: Were you aware of that?
TYG: No! Why are they doing that?
Greg: They're bringing in a choir teacher instead.
TYG: Oh, so they can only support so many people.
Amy: Yes. It's a pretty contentious situation; there are a lot of parent and kids that are pretty sad about the art program going away.
Greg: So the Center for the Arts will bring in classes for the kids. We'd [like to] substitute a lot of things that the art teacher would have done with an art center.
Amy: And the art teacher, Missy Alberti-Araujo is very much involved in helping us to create this portion. We're at the very, very beginning of the planning process, so there's a lot of room for input, there's a lot of room for volunteering, there's a lot of room for helping to shape who we're going to become.
TYG: I'm guessing you've already talked to YYFAP [Yachats Youth and Family Activities Program] then?
Amy: Not yet. Let me back up: we're working on contacting everybody. Every day I contact 10 or more businesses, so they're on the list. I'm glad you mentioned them so we can bring them on board.
TYG: Because I can certainly see a lot of the kids there benefitting from an arts program.
Greg: We want a partnership with a lot of different groups—we want to keep the place open and going as often as we can. We don't want a closed building—we want it open, open all the time.
TYG: Yes, when you start closing the building you start losing people.
TYG-GD: Are you going to have a permanent art exhibit?
Amy: Yes. Our intention is to have gallery space, so there will always be art. Mostly local artists. There are so many things we want to do! We want to have juried art shows. Part of our mission is to bring tourists to Waldport and give them a really high-quality experience here, so that they'll stay in the area and shop. That is part of our mission. Our mission is sort of three-fold: that's one part, is to develop a tourist base. Another part is to support local art and artists; the other part is support for the community in the way of supporting youth, seniors—whatever the community defines as support, we want to be able to do that.
Greg: But we also want to do music; we want to do drama and have performances going on, like theater.
TYG: It would be nice to have a more permanent theater space.
Greg: It'll have to be small theater, but...
Amy: And my dream is to create this really strong corps of volunteers that are set to hone our skills, so that when an opportunity comes along we can jump on it, write a grant, and go for it. The Umpqua Bank building is not big enough for all of our dreams. But it's a great start. The core of the Waldport Arts Group is putting together a team of people who will be able to guide the project, write the grants and proposals, and be trained up to really handle the resource in the best possible way for the community.
TYG-GD: So can you tell us a little more about the building itself, the parameters, etc.?
Greg: It's basically a 3,000 square foot building with a huge lobby. It's got some interesting parts, such as a vault—we thought it would be so interesting to have a vault gallery space.
Amy: Art in the Vault.
Greg: [laughs] And it has a long wall where the drive-through is, which is going to be a great space for a gallery too. In the huge lobby we'll be able to move in mobile walls for gallery space, and the lighting is going to be great because it has a huge skylight. It has an attic with a huge storage room, where we were thinking of putting in an artist co-op which would have a framing shop and a printing space.
TYG-GD: [chortles] Oh yes.
Amy: Because that's the biggest need in South County.
TYG-GD: No kidding, especially after Office Solutions closed down.
Greg: And that could make us a little bit of money, too.
Amy: And bring artists together, which is the core of what we're doing. It's all about bringing people together and making connections. Even for people who profess they have no interest in art, no appreciation, and no interest in doing it, this kind of center tends to bring people together with events and happenings. And once we get to where we can work together as a team, where we can learn how to work together and create this solid core, we can hit other areas too. You know, if there's a natural disaster for example, we all know how to work together, we know each other's minds, we know how to work together. So these are some of the far-reaching implications of having a center like this in town and making these connections.
TYG: It won't be for that building, of course—it's on the Waldport flats. [laughter]
Amy: Well, for that particular disaster, yes. But to that point, the Center for the Arts will be much more than just a building—and if the city decides that there's a better use for that building, we're still committed to creating an arts center. We already have, literally, dozens of people contacting us, and helping out, and personally, I haven't seen this kind of excitement over a project in Waldport since I moved here seven years ago. And I've talked to people who have been here for 20 years, who say that they've never seen this kind of excitement. We've even got the county commissioner Claire Hall pledging to cover our first 18-24 months of utilities.
Greg and I attended a grant-writing seminar that Meredith Howell put on up in Lincoln City. At the break during her workshop, we had several people approach us with the business card for their foundation saying, "You really need to write a grant. We want to support you." And what we're hearing from the cultural charity community is that they're looking for ways to invest in South County, and specifically Waldport, because we need to bring Waldport up to speed in the arts, and make Seal Rock, Waldport, and Yachats one big destination.
TYG-GD: I was thinking of the fabric shop in Waldport, Family Fabrics—I bet she's real keen on this too.
Amy: She's really excited, yes. We've talked about it a couple of times, and as a matter of fact, the second weekend in February, there's a quilt run—the Coastal Quilt Run—and I told Ruth, "Wouldn't that be great if we could have a quilt show at the art center too?" So yes, there's just so much we can do. I know there's a local writers' group, and it would be nice to invite them to meet in our space. Some of the artists that we've invited and are already on our board—Terry Hill is one of them—he talks about wanting to do a song workshop.
TYG-GD: We could be the other Sitka!
Amy: Sitka South, yes... [laughs] I'd really love to see that.
Greg: The nice thing is, there's not going to be a rent charge because it's a free building. But we do have to maintain it. So operating expenses are going to be low.
TYG: Basically just utilities and supplies.
Greg: And insurance.
Amy: Basically, I feel like it's going to be really attractive to agencies like the Ford Family Foundation, because we should be able to prove that we'll be able to manage that building and the expenses, and hopefully they can help us with a grant to retrofit the bank into an arts center.
Greg: And the building is in excellent shape.
TYG-GD: So what possessed the bank to actually just give up the building?
Greg: We think that because they wanted to keep the ATM in there, they couldn't really sell the building.
Amy: And it's a write-off for them. They actually have a charitable foundation.
TYG-GD: And what kind of governing structure are you thinking of in terms of participation and membership, those kinds of things?
Amy: Well, the Waldport Arts Group forms the board that is going to be overseeing it.
Greg: Because it has to be a community-based organization.
Amy: And we'll be putting in a half-time executive director, and from there it's going to depend on the programs and what we can do grant-wise to bring money in. Basically, once we get up and running and figure out how to smoothly pull in money and spend it properly and everything, I feel like the sky's the limit. If we want a program, we'll get together and talk about it, we'll write up a grant, we'll figure out how to make it sustainable, and boom.
TYG-GD: Are you going to have any studio space for rent?
Amy: Not in the Umpqua Bank building.
Greg: It's not quite big enough.
TYG-GD: Maybe we could build like little shacks on the outside? An arts favela?
Amy: [laughter] Right!
TYG: You've probably already thought of this, but how about a place for community young adults to come together with a set of art supplies?
TYG: They could come together once a week to see if they can work together and develop their own artistic talents.
Amy: That's something that when I was talking to Jacquee Christnot about it and getting her opinion, she said, "I would love to see very low-cost, or free, art supplies that an emerging artist can come in and say 'Hey! I would really like to try oil painting, but I don't to spend $500 to $700 to get my first little [starter set]." I mean, you know what it takes to get a medium up and running.
TYG: Especially with oils. With certain others it's not so bad.
Amy: Even a thing like alcohol inks, which is something I work a lot in... you can get a kit for about $45.
TYG: Really? I would have thought that would be even more expensive than oils.
Amy: But some people don't have that. And if you have the supplies—once you've got them, it doesn't cost very much to keep it up.
TYG: Especially with alcohol inks. Alcohol inks are nice in that regard, because it's just refills.
Amy: Right, you would just have refills. I started with probably $60 of alcohol inks. I now have 4 different sets, and seven different substrates... [laughs]
TYG: Talk to Mom, because Mom is the Queen of alcohol inks! [NB: I'm touched by the Publisher's words, but actually, Amy Anderson is really the Queen of alcohol inks.]
Greg: Oh really?
TYG-GD: But I work with the markers. I use the refills as background, and then I work with the markers.
Amy: Do you use Copic?
TYG-GD: So, I have every single color...
Amy: I have almost every single one.
TYG: And that's out of thousands!
Amy: [laughs] Well, out of hundreds, anyway.
TYG-GD: The thing is that somebody with a lot more money than I have was intending to use them. She used them for a while, but then she discovered she just wasn't really that in love with them, and [hushed tones] she gave them all to me. [exclamations] So I ended up with a bunch of duplicates. And when I first started out I was working for another organization online, and they all got together and bought me a 150 set or something.
Amy: That's amazing!
Amy: There's some crazy stuff going on in the alcohol ink community right now. It's such an accessible medium, I find, and it's so easy for people, even for people who don't really think they're an artist. I think I like teaching it almost more than I like doing it. I taught somebody who, reluctantly, came to the class because she just wanted to hang out. And she told me, "Well, my kindergarten teacher told me I was making mud, and I've never really tried [art] since then." And she's a woman my age, in her 50s. So I put a tile in front of her and three colors, and she made something absolutely beautiful, and I followed through and resined it for her, and she can't wait to do it again.
TYG-GD: That is great! Any teacher goes for that...
Amy: I had another professional artist take my class, and she said it was life-changing. She's an illustrator, and very, very specific.
TYG-GD: [laugh] Yes, this medium will get you to loosen up!
TYG: Yes, that's something I've seen in Mom's work—it's not the most precise in the world. But that's just how it is.
TYG-GD: Yes! So I very often do a base layer that's covered with pigment inks and mica [powders] and all kinds of stuff, and then I draw on top of it with the Copics. And because the Copics are so transparent, the bottom [layer] shows through. It gives it a whole, uncontrollable, different layer.
Amy: I have some paper for you to try! It's a paper that this artist and chemical engineering student in Australia created specifically for alcohol ink. It's called Ceramic Tile Paper. She has a mentor in the paper industry in Australia, and she and her grandmother are really into alcohol ink. So I just bought a roll of it, and there are only about 30 people in the world that have it right now. [laughter and exclamations] So now there will be 31!
TYG-GD: Wow, that's awesome! Is it really expensive?
Amy: It's about the price of Yupo paper, or maybe even a little cheaper. And uh, well, just wait till you see it. Just wait. I'm actually cutting up the roll and selling half of it to try and help her distribute it, because she doesn't have a distribution channel in the United States.
TYG-GD: Did you give any to Jo [Beaudreaux] down in Florence, at her Beaux-Arts shop next to St. Vinnie's? Because she carries Copics too.
Amy: Not yet! It's going to go like hot cakes... But what's just happened here has been happening with almost every discussion we've had about the Alsea Bay Center for the Arts, because people are coming together: "Oh, you're a glass artist?" "Oh, you're a metal artist?" "I've always wanted to do..." I have heard conversations like this everywhere and it is so exciting.
Greg: It's so exciting to get the artists out of their studios. So it's nice to have them all coming together.
Amy: Well Greg, I think you should speak on not being an artist, and how much you're enjoying working on this project.
Greg: Yes! I'm not an artist, I just collect art, that's all I do. But I feel this creativity all around me now, and I'm enjoying that, just seeing it come together and being a part of it.
Amy: And we're looking for people with all sorts of talents to help us out. Right now I'm really hoping to find a CPA who can help us with the financial aspects, and keeping us on the straight and narrow.
Greg: So, we're doing this big launch party on April 9, and it's going to be at the Interpretive Center in Waldport.
Amy: It's the building right by the bridge [on the West side], right by Ruth's Fabrics. Core Fitness, Ruth's, and the Subway are in the strip mall building, and right next to that in the same parking lot is the Interpretive Center. It's really a cool place to visit: they have some historical exhibits. So that's where we're going to have our launch party: April 9th at 5:30 PM. We're going to have a short program at 6 PM; we're going to lay out what we're hoping to do, what we need from the community. We're going to have food and soft drinks.
Greg: And door prizes!
Amy: Right! We have some great door prizes: so far we have a $50 gift certificate for Ona, several artists are donating some really great art, Chubby's is giving us a gift certificate, and we have a Ruth's Fabric Store gift certificate. Yes! So come out and hear about this wonderful new thing that's happening in South County, and you might walk away with a prize, too! And we'll feed you! [laughs]
TYG-GD: So is there any time scale available from the city of Waldport?
Greg: No yet. We'll certainly let people know as soon as it is available.
Amy: I'd be happy to help them write the RFP. [laughter]
Greg: But like I said, we just want the community to get ready to start thinking, be creative.
Amy: The other thing is that even before the bank building—or whatever building—comes along, we're starting to get the kind of interest where we can start to pull things together. For example, the Yachats Arts Guild doesn't have a building. They meet at the Presbyterian Church, and they do a lot of stuff at the Commons, and they're starting to develop this wonderful workshop program. We could be looking at the same thing; we could be looking at supporting the school, even before the building goes up. Our biggest focus right now is going to be trying to get the building, because that's what we've got right in front of us right now.
TYG-GD: I presume you're talking with Polly Plumb Productions as well?
Amy: I've had a couple of meetings with Meredith Howell, plus I took her workshop; she's been a wonderful mentor and I'm hoping very much that she wants to continue in that vein, because she's fabulous. She's expressed, as has just about every other person in the community that we've talked to, the willingness and the need to partner. That's the overriding theme of all of this: the coast needs to come together and partner. We've got a lot of money, and a lot of people come in. It's inevitable; the tipping point is here. If we don't get together and partner and learn how to manage that, it's going to be chaotic and crazy and we will lose control of our culture. And I'm seeing people and businesses partner in ways that I've never seen before.
TYG-GD: That's very positive!
Amy: Yes! That is the overriding feeling that I've had since we started talking about it is that the energy is insanely positive. I just wake up every morning "Zippety do da!" [laughter] Let's go! And I'm putting in pretty much a full-time schedule.
Greg: We're having work sessions every week, and then we've got team meetings in between the work sessions.
Amy: Well, you know that Heather, since you're helping us with our logo, which we totally appreciate.
TYG: I was thinking, another cool idea would be in a little different direction: a modeler's program.
Amy: Modeler? Like, creating models? Oh, yes!
TYG: Like the Yaquina Pacific Railroad Historical Society: they would know a lot about modeling. Obviously it's a railroad society, so they'd know more about train modeling, but it might be a good way to start.
Amy: There's another partnership. That's exactly what I was talking about! See, I hear that every time I talk to somebody, and it gets me giddy! I'm like, look at all these connections we can make! Look how much we can strengthen our community and find commonality, in days where things feel like we don't have much in common. Building on that, and learning how to appreciate each other for what we have in common is going to keep us strong, today and in the future.
Greg: The building has a wonderful conference room, so anybody in the community who just needs a place to meet—I hope we'll have an online scheduling system, just like the Commons.
TYG: YouCanBook.Me ! Have you guys heard of that? That's a great system for that kind of thing.
Amy: So, while you're at it, do you have any recommendations for software to run the organization? [laughter] I just thought I'd ask, you never know... My background is in IT, so I've been looking at non-profit software, so my brain is [suggesting we] build it right, from the ground up.
TYG: I wish we'd done that for the Gazette!
Amy: But how old were you, eight?
TYG: Yes, but just a year ago we got a billing system... We'd literally been doing it in Word.
TYG-GD: There's an online conferencing system too, slack.com.
Amy: My son knows one too. He's an IT director up in Seattle, and I actually watched him have a conference online once. But we're open for any kind of system. I'm kind of the keeper of the records for the moment since I'm the Secretary of the Waldport Arts Group and since I have an affinity for keeping all that sort of thing together.
TYG-GD: Alright! Well, was there anything else you wanted to say?
Amy: Just to let people know that if they are interested in getting in touch with us, we're looking for volunteers, we're looking for donations—we are a 501(c)(3). Any way that people feel that they'd like to support the project, we'd like to hear from them. You can e-mail email@example.com, or go to the Facebook page [Waldport Art Group or Alsea Bay Center for the Arts]. We have strategic planning sessions every Tuesday at 1 PM. When available, we are meeting at Enough (140 NW Hwy 101, Waldport). We have a lot of work to do: writing a business plan, a proposal, grants, and publicity materials. We'd love to have your help! And don't forget the launch party scheduled for April 9th at 5:30 PM at the Waldport Interpretive Center. A short program at 6:00 PM will introduce the community to project. There will be food, soft drinks and door prizes.
TYG: Well, thank you so much for everything!
Amy: Thank you!
Greg: Thank you! We appreciate the opportunity.