CANNON BEACH — The Spring Unveiling Arts Festival in Cannon Beach ushers in an air of anticipation as artists at galleries across town collectively reveal their new work — breathtaking and poignant paintings, lustrous blown glass pieces, intricately detailed sculpture made from various materials, and, in the case of Steidel’s Art, a new children’s book.
The gallery will be officially debuting “Mallory in the Forest of Lost Kites” at 6 p.m. Friday during the Cannon Beach Gallery Group’s Spring Unveiling festival, which takes place throughout the weekend. The book is fully illustrated by artist Bill Steidel, who started creating artwork in Cannon Beach in 1959. As one of three original artists in town, he was “a big influence in the discovery of Cannon Beach as a community of art,” according to Sam Steidel, Bill’s son who now owns the gallery.
Sam Steidel, who was on the original development committee for Spring Unveiling, came up with the story for the book about 40 years ago in college, based on his father’s work “Forest of Lost Kites.” The story then “bounced around the family a little bit” before they decided to put it in writing and produce “a real book kids could put their hands on,” he said.
Bill Steidel created other illustrations to accompany the story, which follows a mouse named Mallory who gets caught up in a kite string and carried to the Forest of Lost Kites, a land that is ruled by a council of owls. The birds face the danger of getting stuck in myriad kite strings strewn throughout the forest, so Mallory offers to help them solve the problem in exchange for his protection.
Because of the text style and 90-page length, the book is designed for grandparents and parents to read to children, Sam Steidel said.
In addition to showcasing and hosting a book-signing for “Mallory in the Forest of Lost Kites,” the gallery also will show several new pieces and the original artwork Bill Steidel created for this year’s Sandcastle Contest. The gallery is holding a silent auction for the original artwork from Spring Unveiling up through the contest in June.
Essentially, Spring Unveiling is “a show,” in that “you get scheduled for a show, then you produce work and show up and have some sort of reception,” artist and gallery owner Jeffrey Hull said. This show simply occurs on a larger scale among numerous galleries, as they join in a “celebration of the end of winter and an acknowledgment that artists are often producing work during the quiet time of year,” Hull said.
Allyn Cantor, owner of White Bird gallery, agreed, adding, “In one way, it’s a great opportunity to get fresh, new work in for the season.”
The festival features numerous receptions with live music, cocktail hours, demonstrations, and opportunities to meet artists throughout the weekend. Gallery group members are the main participators and they collaborate on the weekend’s official event itinerary. Other establishments and organizations outside the art collective also participate in the festival in various ways.
Cantor said she appreciates that the concept of Spring Unveiling provides scope for imagination, flexibility and various interpretation.
“I think everyone just runs with it in their own way,” she said.
Gallery owners put on the first Spring Unveiling festival nearly 20 years ago, using an idea former Bronze Coast Gallery owner Kim Barnett borrowed from a similar art celebration in northeastern Oregon. They didn’t formalize their creative collaborations until two years later, founding the Cannon Beach Gallery Group to promote the arts in town.
“I’m pleased just personally that the galleries can work together on something like this,” Hull said. “We’re competitors in one sense, but we’re also likeminded in that we want to see each other succeed and do well, as well.”