SMOKEY POINT — On the same evening that the Arlington Arts Council again asked the community to show the charitable spirit that’s kept community art projects going in Arlington, so too did the Arts Council recognize those community members whose contributions have been especially precious to them, during the annual “Fall Into Art” auction on Saturday, Oct. 20.
Jean Olson, treasurer for the Arlington Arts Council, acknowledged that attendance for their only fundraiser of the year has seen a slight decline, but noted that the same has been true for many community-based charitable organizations.
“We launched the Sound Garden next to Legion Park,” Olson said of the hands-on public musical instrument which includes “The Swirl” from Freenotes Harmony Park, designed by Grammy Award-winning musician Richard Cooke. The Arlington Arts Council plans to add bells and drums to the Sound Garden.
“We’re also finishing two more entryway signs for Arlington,” Olson said of the Native American-style raptor by Everett’s Barry Herem and a landscape by Arlington’s Carolyn Sumpter.
“In the coming year, we’re simply committed to finishing existing projects,” said Olson, noting that limited finances are forcing them to prioritize a number of prospective projects with public input.
Arlington Arts Council President Sarah Arney reflected on the group’s most significant loss within the past year, the death of longtime member Kent Baker due to lung cancer this May.
“He left behind many memories and beautiful pictures, so even in the afterlife, he’s still donating to this auction,” Arney said. “He taught us a lot of the tricks of the trade, but his greatest contribution was leaving us his wife, Roberta Baker,” she added, drawing applause from the crowd.
After she credited “Fall Into Art” Auction Chair Virginia Hatch with the heavy lifting of coordinating the event, Arney presented the Art Advocate of Arlington Award to Norma Pappas, owner of the Olympic Theatre.
“She has slaved away six to seven nights a week to foster the art of movies, providing a cultural center for families and preserving a historic building in our downtown,” Arney said, before presenting Pappas with a painting of the Olympic Theatre’s marquee. “As she’s facing a transition to digital film, a group in Arlington has formed to try and find ways of keeping the Olympic Theatre around for all of us.”
Arney went on to praise the city of Arlington for its partnership with the Arlington Arts Council, singling out Paul Ellis, assistant to the City Administrator for Special Projects, and city Recreation Manager Sarah Lopez for plaudits, as well as City Council members such as Marilyn Oertle and Steve Baker.
“That proposal wall has a lot of good ideas,” Arney said, pointing to the pictures of proposed art projects on the back wall of the Medallion Hotel dining room in Smokey Point. “We just have to figure out which ones we’re going to do next.”
Wendy Becker, economic development officer for Snohomish County, delivered the keynote address before the live auction, in which she tied a community’s art projects to its economic prosperity.
“Community artwork not only creates an environment that feels more like a community, but it contributes to economic development by inspiring tourism and community revitalization,” Becker said. “There are approximately 100,000 jobs in the creative economy in this state, that generate roughly $673 million in revenues. Not only does art attract tourism dollars, but cultural tourists tend to stay longer and spend more money. The arts can be as unique a selling point for Arlington as the Philly Cheesesteak is for Philadelphia.”