There’s something special about painting at the edge of the world.
This concept inspires Wheeler-based artist Deborah DeWit, one of many artists who come to Cannon Beach to experience art on the coastal edge during the Spring Unveiling Arts Festival. Dozens of galleries and restaurants will showcase artists and art-inspired cuisine in the annual event — now in its 18th year — Friday, May 4, through Sunday, May 6.
DeWit first came to Cannon Beach to show her work at White Bird Gallery more than 30 years ago. Her paintings and photographs often capture where the inner and outer worlds meet. Sometimes that means literally portraying a window, or someone walking through a door. Other times that “membrane of experience,” as she calls it, is more abstract.
It’s a notion she carried with her as she ventured away from the coast to pursue her career as an artist around the Pacific Northwest. But with a need for a life change, the perfect home going up for sale and the inspiration that comes with living at the coast, DeWit returned to the North Coast about seven years ago.
“Your face is in the wind. From my house, we literally look west over the bay and the ocean. The weather is constantly coming our way,” DeWit said. “There’s something humbling about always being in the presence of the natural phenomenon.”
For Bend-based artist Mark Gordon, inspiration is deeply rooted within the walls of the Icefire Glassworks — the place that inspired his love for glass in the first place.
At Spring Unveiling, Gordon will add to his already consistent showing of colorful, abstract glassworks found in Cannon Beach — a reality he never would have dreamed of when he responded to a newspaper ad for a job at the gallery 15 years ago.
“I just needed some work in my early 20s. I had just moved to the beach needed something to do,” Gordon said. “I think I was supposed to sell art. I had never sold art in my life.”
But as he worked he became increasingly fascinated with glassblowing. Gallery owners Jim Kingwell and Suzanne Kindland started to show him the ropes, teaching him basics about styling and shaping glass. For six years he stayed, honing his craft in Portland art classes in his off time.
After a short break in 2009, Gordon got a position as an artist in the Bend gallery Glass Dancing, and has continued to come back every so often as a guest artist for the event he used to staff as a sales clerk.
“It’s neat continuation. People who knew me when I couldn’t blow glass to now … they get to see me actually making something out of it,” Gordon said. “Cannon Beach is kind of my second home. It’s always been about supporting Icefire studio. [If I can facilitate help that place grow that gave me my start I’m happy to help.”]
While some artists have cultivated a long relationship with the coast, others, like Angelita Surmon, will be presenting at Spring Unveiling for the first time.
A Portland-based artist, Surmon likes to explore the way light is perceived through various media, like watercolor and glasswork.
“I focus on the landscape close up, so it’s more abstracted,” Surmon said. “Quality of light in landscape is so important.”
Surmon will be presenting a type of layered, abstract glass work that requires multiple firings to create. When held up to the light, it presents as if someone painted the design upon the surface, when in reality each line, dot and stroke is meticulously placed 2 millimeter wide glass bent and placed with intention.
In her first year, Surmon hopes to show art enthusiasts a different way of expressing and appreciating the landscapes around them.
“Here, there are so many grand vistas, but there are all these little places and details that are grand in their own way,” she said. “I would invite the viewer to look at things close up, like you were a child.”