Tillamook is known as a great place for walking, shopping and enjoying at a leisurely pace. Now it also gives visitors and locals the chance to appreciate the area’s art and talent firsthand — in the Art Accelerated Art Walk.
Art Accelerated began with a group of local artists who crafted the idea of hosting a short pop-up exhibit to fill a vacant storefront in 2015. With a grant from the Tillamook County Cultural Coalition, the group held its first pop-up art show that summer and Art Walk took flight.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s only two places that want to do the art walk,” said Art Accelerated Co-director Christine Harrison. “One of the best things you can do is to start an art walk.”
Art Accelerated went on to establish itself as a nonprofit in 2016. The following year it opened its own art gallery and art center showcasing local artists, authors and musicians.
Art Walk sets foot every fourth Saturday of the month from 1 to 3 pm, involving numerous Tillamook businesses and organizations. On a rotating basis, merchants invite local artwork to be displayed at their locations as an added bonus for patrons while shopping, strolling and enjoying Tillamook’s laid back, welcoming culture.
Local officials said many travelers road-trip it through the small town on their way to vacation destinations along the coast, without stopping to see what Tillamook has to offer. Art Walk has proven to be an added enticement for visitors to check out the area’s shops, restaurants and other attractions.
It has also been a much-needed boost for the local business community struggling with the profit-straining impact of the highway improvement work launched in 2016. Although the project was recently completed, the lengthy construction work frequently left downtown streets, sidewalks and access ways closed off — detouring not just roadway traffic, but customer flow and revenue as well.
“It’s totally the Tillamook way,” said Sierra Lauder, an Art Accelerated board member and Tillamook Area Chamber of Commerce director of events and downtown development. “It supports hands-on, local people creating art as well as supporting our local businesses. It’s a huge hit with people coming through Tillamook and will be interesting to see how it continues to snowball. Visitors should come here because it’s awesome.”
“We’ve had really good response,” Harrison said, “and a lot the merchants have told us it’s been really good for them.”
Supportive business owners include Sky Veek of Lucky Bear Soap Co., which specializes in handcrafted organic body products, cards, art, smudges, jewelry and gifts. Lucky Bear has participated in previous Art Walks, and Veek said she appreciates how it supports local artists and helps people feel more comfortable about exploring the community’s vibrant art scene.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for local artists to get their work out in front of the public in a fun and easy way,” she said. “I think art walkers don’t feel the pressure of intimidation that they might walking into a gallery.”