Cannon Beach has a reputation for being one of the top art towns in America. The town has renowned art festivals and events, an abundance of art galleries, and plenty of talented resident artists. It’s no wonder why Cannon Beach inspires art, with its gorgeous beach, birds, candy shops, and more.
One of the most popular galleries in town is DragonFire Gallery. The Gallery focus on affordable, original art from the Pacific Northwest in media ranging from paint to glass, ceramic, and metal. Eeva Lantela uses her creativity and passion for the arts to flow through the gallery. She is in charge of picking artists and finding out where to display them in the gallery. She says the gallery has 24 different colors on the walls.
When picking artists, Lantela focuses on affordable, local artists and keeps a diverse array of media. The gallery only accepts original work that is unlike any of the other artists’ work. Lantela says that the pieces need to be affordable for customers. The artist and gallery need to have a good working relationship and the artist’s pieces need to be of good quality. The artist also has to honor the business relationship between them and the customer. If a customer is trying to reach them, they need to be able to communicate with them.
The gallery sells a lot of bone glass, wall art, sculptures, recycled metal art, and jewelry. Lantela says that all of the pieces are popular, but if she had to choose the most popular right now, bone glass would be the favorite.
The DragonFire Gallery will be a part of a new festival in Cannon Beach, the Earth and Ocean Arts Festival on September 20-22. As part of the festival, DragonFire artists will use their chosen media to convey what is most precious and inspiring to them in the ecosystem of the North Oregon Coast. A heartfelt and deeply considered show, each work of art will tell a personal story with universal resonance. This show will be at 5-7 p.m. on Friday, September 20.
The gallery is involved in three festivals a year. The Earth and Ocean Festival is brand new this year. The Stormy Weather Arts Festival is on November 1-3 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the 19th Annual Spring Unveiling Arts Festival was from May 3-5 and takes place every year.
One of the artists from the gallery, Greg Navratil, has been painting full time since 1989. His paintings begin by visiting colorful, natural areas. He hunts for scenes with his camera and takes numerous photos. Key photographs are selected that will become paintings.
Navatril’s earliest memory is his box of chewed up crayons. With these, he transferred colors to any surface of the house. Growing up, art was always his favorite subject in school. In college, he was a sculpture major, but took all art classes that were available. In his later years, he gave up sculpture for painting. Painting required less studio space, and he loved going out in nature for inspiration.
While participating in the Portland Arts Festival in 2002, a photographer friend recommended that he drive down the Oregon Coast. This was a first for Navratil and he fell in love. A year later, him and his wife found a schoolhouse for sale north of Seaside and purchased it. They sold their Denver home and moved to the coast. They spent months renovating the studio and home.
One of Navatril’s favorite pieces is the “Plunge.” This work was inspired by the view looking down from Sol Duc Falls in Olympic National Park. It is being featured in the Kingston Arts Festival, which opens Thursday, July 25.
Navatril will be participating in the 5th Annual Fall Festival of Arts in Troutdale on September 21-22. He will also be participating in the Corvallis Arts Festival on September 28-29 and the LaJolla Art Festival on October 12-13.
Kevin Brownlee, another artist from DragonFire, specializes in cast aluminum. He lives half an hour away and has lived in the area for 15 years. He specializes in cast aluminum.
His father was a professional artist who collaborated with another artist in the 60’s to create a technique for cast aluminum. Brownlee grew up learning about the process. He later collaborated with the same artist who worked with his father, using the same technique and casting metal sculptures.
Brownlee sees his art as a thing to do during retirement. He likes working with natural forms, mainly animals. He likes doing orcas, salmon, and other animals. He is focused on producing new pieces for the gallery. Brownlee may show his new work at the Earth & Ocean Art Festival this September.
Melisa Kroening-Colvin is a mixed media photographer and displays her mixed media photography at DragonFire Gallery as well. Her primary tools are photographic, but she also sculpts, paints, and builds sets on which her images are based.
Colvin studied studio photography in college with a focus on still life. Once she began using that in a fine art application, completing the image felt like only part of the process, she said.
“Texture and surface depth are very appealing to me, and the use of the transfer process of my current work also allows for the layering of imagery with painting techniques, which further allows for the creation of one of a kind pieces, which I also enjoy,” said Colvin.
Currently, Colvin has two favorite pieces. One is an image titled ‘Silence Years’, which is borrowed from a song lyric by a group called Over the Rhine. The full lyric is “silence yearns to hear herself, some long lost memory rings a bell called home.”
“These words conjured the image for me, though the final piece is a bit different than what I originally imagined, as often happens in the process of building a set,” said Colvin. “What did come through the process of making this image are the essential elements of home for me here – a quiet space where the forest and the ocean meet.”
The second image that Colvin would call a favorite came about far differently. She spent a great deal of time volunteering at the Wildlife Center of the North Coast, and for the last several years, has taken on the care of their resident Western Screech Owl. After her molt last year, she was amazed at the variety of feathers that came from one single bird and ended up with a series that she refers to as “Feather Sketches.”
“These pieces are quite a bit different from what I have made in the past, with equal parts painting and photography, and one image in particular, titled “Hunt”, captured a lot for me about the nature of that particular bird,” said Colvin.
Colvin has a new piece in progress that will be displayed at the gallery’s show at the Earth & Ocean Arts Festival and will continue producing work for the DragonFire.
Another popular gallery in town is the Jeffrey Hull Gallery. The artist and owner of the gallery, Jeffrey Hull, began his painting career over 40 years ago as a resident of the beautiful coastal art community of Cannon Beach. He was born and raised in Portland and moved to the Oregon Coast at 20 years old and has lived here ever since.
Hull has always painted and loved to draw as a child. He always enjoyed making things. His favorite piece at the moment is one he is currently working on called “Fair Wind.” His favorite changes regularly as he paints 40-50 paintings a year. His favorite is usually one that he is working on at the moment and that he is most interested in.
Hull will be a part of the Earth & Ocean Arts Festival. The Cannon Beach Gallery Group is hosting the event and invites artists who represent the majestic ocean environment in their artworks. Collaborating with local non-profits, a portion of the festival proceeds will assist environmental organizations in maintaining protection of Oregon’s North Coast region.