Welcome to 49º North Artists!
It is so inspiring to have this forum to meet our neighbors to discuss and explore new and old ideas for creating a strong arts’ presence along the 49th Parallel. Despite the economic difficulties in the region, we believe our home ground at 49º North offers some untapped opportunities to develop new markets for arts and to assist our communities in leveraging the creative potential that already exists.
The old railroad hub and border crossing site of Oroville (that’s WA) offers one of those opportunities.
A recent program of economic revitalization devised by the town leadership has created some awareness of possibilities. Oroville has many appealing assets to draw upon: Main Street, aka Highway 97, retains an early 20th Century facade, reflecting the boom town it once was, several times. Two of the earliest buildings on Main Street date to 1887 when the area was known as Ragtown, with other survivors hanging on since 1911. Even the presence of the old railroad tracks remind of the End of the Line; the original Depot building of 1907, now a museum and historical archive, can still evoke an era of buying a ticket out of town.
Yes, Main Street appears kind of shabby and forlorn – many empty storefronts that offer no visual stimulus to the traffic passing by, most of which consists of travelers crossing the border from Canada. Five hundred thousand of them every year, to be exact!
Another astonishing opportunity, those numbers. And the 49th Parallel contains an industry, largely invisible right now: While we wait for outside economic development, it seems only sensible to engage the large number of artists and artisans we already have to move in, so to speak. If visual attraction is what Main Street needs to get the ball rolling, visual artists have an abundance of that necessity. Tourists of the magnitude that Oroville sees annually has the potential to furnish a decent marketplace for our creative enterprises.
And so, welcome to Art on The Line! — a storefront project from 49º North Artists that will change empty windows to a two-block gallery, showcasing local art and artists over four-months from June 15 thru October 15, 2016.
We have signed up five buildings so far and have interest for four more – a total of 27 windows. About 14 individual artist participants are anticipated; however, there may be room for many more throughout the year.
The first art installation is already underway.
Historic maps by Lisa Middleton of Great River Arts will be mounted in the windows of the Gazette-Tribune office at the corner of Main Street and Central Avenue. By July 1st, we expect to have the 1906 plat map of Oroville townsites, a Homesteader’s Map of the Entire North Half of the Colville Reservation dated 1900, an Okanogan County map of 1920’s, a Washington Postal Route (actually, the old stagecoach routes) of 1895, an others.
Already on display at the northeast window is a Washington State Railroad map—railroads being the lifeline of the Old West—demonstrating all the existing routes to the Promised Land of 1895. Prints of the maps will be available at affordable prices on this site and through Great River Arts around May 15, 2016. The artist is generously donating the profits to 49º North Artists so that we can continue working toward successful marketplace development for the arts.