New art exhibits fascinate and inspire

Despite the event’s name, the Stormy Weather Arts Festival saw clear and cloudy skies Nov. 8 — a fact welcomed by my friends and me, who carpooled south from Astoria to check out the art receptions in Cannon Beach.

Though I’d been to Spring Unveiling in May, this was my first November festival visit, and we got to explore many fine galleries, some of which I entered for the first time.

DragonFire Gallery was packed with patrons. The line for tasty appetizers catered by Jonathan Hoffman was long, but the wait let us admire Tom Guffey’s action photos of dogs living it up on the beach. Fused glass landscapes by Ann Cavanaugh impressed with depth and detail, and whimsical paintings of fruit and vegetables on ceramic boxes by Lynn Gandolfi made me want to cook up a storm.

Steidel’s Art gallery, housed in a quaint and cozy cottage, offered magical paintings that recalled fairy tales, complete with fantastic beasts and enchanted environments. One particularly creative piece imagines Haystack Rock as the ruins of an ancient castle — something that sticks in the mind.

At Archimedes Gallery, Cannon Beach Distillery served up two hand-crafted cocktails as visitors admired the art. Layered glass panels by Paul Messink depicting bare trees and barbed-wire fences captured the “Thoughts on a Grey Day” group show’s mindful mood. Josh Keyes’ “End of the Trail” painting offered “some real local flavor,” as my friend put it, imagining the iconic Lewis and Clark statue at the Seaside Turnaround partly submerged in the ocean and home to all manner of sea creatures, including an eel, a crab, fish, sea stars, a furiously burrowing razor clam, and puffins.

Australian and Ethiopian opals at Jewelry by Sharon Amber caught the eye, and live music by Maggie Kitson and Richard T. caught the ear.

In Jeffrey Hull Gallery, the original watercolor “As the Sun Sets” arrested your attention, filling a wall with the brilliant pink glow of sunset in sky and water. At the back of his gallery, Hull had a TV showing him in action in his studio. Watching the artist paint in watercolors on such a large scale and discuss his process was impressive and fascinating.

Another artist who used technology to help demonstrate his technique to curious observers was glass artist Bob Heath at Primary Elements Gallery. As he talked about his drop-ring glass work, photos on his computer illustrated the step-by-step process; one sequence even showed a time-lapse of the glass melting through the ring to create a vase. Elsewhere in the gallery, L.G. Berger entertained on keyboard — offering a poignant Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” — as Paul Chase’s multi-media paintings, incorporating real guitars, listened in from the walls.

In the courtyard outside busy Modern Villa and Bronze Coast galleries, John Meyer and other musicians offered upbeat tunes, including a lively rendition of Don McLean’s “American Pie” that had a crowd of milling art patrons singing along.

Anne Marie Sanderson’s sweet vocals and acoustic guitar filled White Bird Gallery with an enchanting folk-indie sound. Large abstract landscapes by featured artist Christopher Mathie filled the back walls. I ducked into the tiny alcove, admiring the muted and atmospheric encaustic paintings by Paula Blackwell as well as an intriguing selection of books.

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