CANNON BEACH — As an artist and newly minted program director of the Cannon Beach Arts Association, Cara Mico does not have a preferred medium.

Instead, when asked, she started to list all of the different ways she likes to create art: oil and acrylic, piano, dance and literature.

Her answer is reflective of her overall vision for the arts association to diversify the definition of what art can be in Cannon Beach.

“Art is translating. No matter the interpretation, it’s still just understanding the world,” Mico said. “It’s all art to me.”

The Cannon Beach Arts Association supports, funds and enhances the arts and artists in the city and the region through education, events and exhibits, and has been doing so since 1986. The association provides art scholarships, an internship and an individual artist grant. The summer camp, for which the Stormy Weather chamber grant is designated, draws a mix of local and out-of-town students.

The association’s previous director, Jane Brumfield, stepped down in December to open the new Imprint Gallery and Studio in Cannon Beach.

Mico’s journey into the world of art started in Portland when she was child. She started drawing and painting at a young age, but didn’t realize she could make her talents into a career until high school.

She attended Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles before she decided to make the switch to study environmental science. She moved to San Diego and then to Oregon State University to study it, with the logic that this degree and her job as a consultant would be more practical. But soon she found herself missing making art.

“It wasn’t going to make me happy,” she said.

So she made a U-turn, and enrolled in the University of Oregon’s master of arts administration and nonprofit management program, where she expects to graduate in June. She returned to her North Coast roots and started as program director in February.

“Now I get to spend my entire day with artists, and have paint all over me, and I get paid for that,” she laughed.

As director, her primary work will be to promote local art in the gallery, as well as act as a bridge between the needs of the artists and board of directors. “Part of what drew me into working at a gallery was because I genuinely care about the artists I promote,” she said.

As the director, Mico plans to maintain and sustain the scholarship and internship programs, but hopes to expand workshop offerings to make them more consistent, diverse and available.

Another goal is to expand representation from artists of color. She hopes to work with local historical organizations to include more work from Hispanic artists, as well as highlight more Asian-American and Native American art.

“Right now we are focused in the fine arts, but there is a lot of room to grow, like with graphic design or portfolio development,” she said. “There are lots of organizations with similar goals around the coast. I want to connect with those with similar missions to ours.”


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