The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current, May 19, 2016, Page 10, Image 20

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Shrinking the distance between artists and students
After 10 years, the
school continues to
bring arts home
Sunday mornings, yoga enthusiasts
head to Tolovana Hall in Cannon
Beach. For 80 minutes, they stretch
their bodies and calm their minds,
meditating on the possible.
Later on Sundays — and throughout
the week — students of belly dancing,
Zumba, qigong or creative writing spend
an hour or so at the hall with teachers
who want to share their talents.
They are participating in a de-
cade-long experiment to, as Tolovana
Arts Colony Program Coordinator
Andrew Tonry calls it, “shrink the
distance” between the artist and the
For Jean Sells-Williams, who
teaches ukulele at Tolovana Hall, the
classes mean an opportunity to share
skills and have fun.
“We sing, we play,” Williams
said. When they all perform the right
chords and complete a song correctly,
“everybody celebrates.”
There may be only one word to
explain why the Tolovana Arts Colo-
ny started 10 years ago: inspiration.
Arts colony founders Billy Hults
and Michael Burgess were inspired to
start an arts school in Cannon Beach
after they organized a show of painter
Steve McLeod’s work at the Wave
Crest Hotel in Tolovana.
“People volunteered to help, brought
food and donated time and materials
to show a local working artist that they
appreciated him and his work,” Hults
wrote in a story that appeared in the
September 2005 issue of Hipfish.
“That was encouraging, and it
reminded some people of how things
used to be in Cannon Beach when it
was known more as an artists colony
than a tourist destination.”
The inspiration was to create
a place where, according to the
colony’s mission statement, a
“community of artists” could gather
in an “intimate, informal setting for
students of all ages to pursue their
talents, focus their energies and hone
their craft.”
To commemorate the Tolovana
Arts Colony’s fi rst decade, a “found-
ers party” is planned from 6 to 9 p.m.
Friday, May 20, at Tolovana Hall,
3779 S. Hemlock St. (See sidebar.)
The fi rst classes, begun Sept. 21,
2005, featured Burgess’s writing
course, which was popular until
his death in 2010; Peter Lindsey’s
exploration of Northwest literature;
McLeod’s drawing and painting
sessions; Jackie Quint’s watercolor
painting; and Marilyn Rooper’s
calligraphy. Most of the classes were
held in Tolovana Hall, a city-owned
building dedicated to community
Inspiration kept the Tolovona Arts
Colony going through the ups and
downs most any shoestring nonprofi t
experiences, including the founders’
deaths (Hults died in 2009) and the
recent renewal of energy by those
who didn’t lose sight of the school’s
“I think the creative energy has
always been there,” said Watt Chil-
dress, chairman of the Tolovana Arts
Colony board. With some new board
members, a new program director
and several people interested in
teaching, “things have come together,
and we’re able to make it happen,”
Childress added. “And we’re really
glad that it’s happening right now.”
The key to the organization’s
mission is to provide an affordable,
accessible path to art for residents
and visitors and for “struggling artists
to supplement their income and keep
up their struggling artists lifestyle,”
Tonry said. The artists receive 75 to
85 percent of students’ tuition.
To pay part of their $29,250 an-
nual budget, the colony applies for a
city Community Services grant every
year. It also puts on the Puttz, a silly
citywide golf tournament — another
Hults innovation — where business
owners erect creative holes for partic-
ipants to master. The holes are made
from whatever scraps of material or
bit of junk the business operators can
put together. Last year, Brian Taylor,
from Bruce’s Candy Kitchen, blew
up a photo of the store’s late owner,
Bruce Haskell; participants had to
chip the ball into a hole cut out at
Haskell’s mouth.
The tournament, along with a raffl e
and silent auction, earns about $4,000
for the colony, said Nancy Teagle,
board member and Puttz chairwoman.
The colony, she added, is “one of the
most nonprofi ts I know.”
But, she added, the Puttz, which is
June 7 this year, “reminds people that
we’re here.”
The colony also conducts an an-
nual art show featuring local artists. It
is organized by board member Debra
Carnes, who displayed her hand-wo-
ven baskets at the colony’s fi rst art
show 10 years ago when the show
also included McLeod and painters
Ken Grant and Don Osborne
Five years ago, the arts colony
stretched its boundaries beyond
Cannon Beach’s city limits through a
weekend workshop called “Get Lit at
the Beach.” Started by Cannon Beach
Book Co. owner, the late Val Ryan,
and local fantasy fi ction writer Terry
Brooks, the annual workshop brings
in regional authors to discuss their
books. It is supported by a grant from
Tolovana Hall sign
The Tolovana Arts Colony board: from left, Leslie McLannah-
an, Andrea Mace, Allyn Cantor, Debra Carnes, Walt Childress,
Nancy Teagle and Tracy Abel
The original founders, from left, Michael Burgess, Steve Mc-
Leod and Billy Hults.
A weaving workshop.