JOSEPH — You could barely squeeze in the door of the Joseph Community Center on the June 5 opening night of the Wallowa Valley Festival of the Arts. Festival Co-director Mary Edwards estimated an opening night attendance of at least 275. Edwards estimated crowds of 175 and 125 on the following two days.

This year, in order to allow the art proper presentation, the festival committee accepted fewer pieces. The festival featured approximately 187 works from 87 artists, including a number of local artists. In order to better showcase artwork, a number of pro-panels for art hanging and pedestals for sculptures were purchased over the last few years, This year Ted Juve of Olaf Pottery and local photographer David Jensen donated work for a special auction that helped raise $400 toward the purchase of pro-panels for next year’s show.

Edwards said the festival tried to shine a little light on bronzes because of Joseph’s identification as a “bronze” town. Wallowa Valley Arts Council President Shelley Curtiss worked with local foundries and galleries to incorporate more bronze pieces into the show, although they were not eligible for awards as they were not “juried” into the show.

The festival itself was a financial as well as aesthetic success. Edwards said the show brought in approximately $12,000. This includes sales of artwork, ticket sales, quick draw, silent auction and special auction sales. The artist receives 75 percent commission while 25 percent goes to the festival. Edwards said money earned goes toward hosting the event the following year.

Edwards said the Wallowa Valley Photo Club also stepped up for the event with a large amount of award donations for photography, sponsoring the People’s Choice Photography Award and the Best Non-Professional Photography Award.

The soon-to-retire Edwards said the festival would never get off the ground without its volunteers. “As the ‘retiring’ co-director of the festival I can honestly say I have never worked with such a dedicated and hardworking group of people as can be found in this committee. Above all they are committed to growth and change and they see this as vital to keeping this event alive and moving forward,” Edwards said.

Edwards expressed amazement at local artists and the local citizenry supporting the arts. “Wallowa County is home to some amazing local artists and equally amazing people who come out and support each other whatever the call,” Edwards said.

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