It's no surprise that in a valley so beautiful, artists of all sorts gather - and have for centuries. Artwork ranges from the pictographs in Hells Canyon to the stunning bronzes produced in Wallowa County's flourishing foundries.

The county has an incredibly rich culture in terms of not only visual arts, but music, literary arts and theater. The arts thrive in the county year-round, not just when the bulk of its visitors arrive during the summer months.

Several nonprofit organizations involve local residents in the arts and produce events that give those interested in the arts extra reasons to visit.

The Wallowa Valley Arts Council has not only put on a quality fine arts show for the past 27 years, but also provides an umbrella for other activities - such as an old-time fiddle show in June, as well as hosting a quick draw event and youth arts festival.

Fishtrap, Inc., has become known far beyond county borders for its promotion of the literary arts, with two annual writers conferences, a lecture series, writers-in-residence in the schools, book readings, writing fellowships and much more.

The Wallowa Valley Musical Alliance provides a rallying point for county musicians, holding a monthly open house most of the year and scheduling a weekly outdoor concert for the fourth summer this year. It also holds music classes and events for music lovers the year-round including regular Tunesmith Nights, which put the spotlight on songwriter/musicians in local restaurants and pubs.

MidValley Theatre Company has provided quality community theater in Wallowa County for more than a dozen years, offering locals a chance to show off their talents and a chance to view two or three top-notch, family-geared productions each year.

New in 2009 is the Juniper Jam. The music festival, held in Enterprise in early September, will feature regional and local music from folk, jazz, Americana, and blues.

Also in September is the annual Nez Perce in the Wallowa art show and auction, an event that brings local art full circle by focusing on contemporary and traditional work by native artists.

While the City of Joseph has become synonymous to those outside the county as a kind of visual arts "brand," only one of its major fine arts foundries - Valley Bronze - is located within the Joseph city limits. The Parks Bronze foundry is sited in Enterprise, while Joseph Bronze is located a couple miles east of Joseph along Highway 82. Tours are available for visitors at all three.

Joseph itself is a wonderful place for arts lovers to visit. Its Main Street is full of monumental bronzes, and its galleries are filled with artwork which complement the beauty of the mountain setting.

Best of all, Wallowa County's people are of a welcoming nature and love to show off their beautiful valley.

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