It’s hard to say which happened first: did the artistic-minded visitors flock to Cannon Beach for the dazzling coastal scenery, or did the scenic vistas of Haystock Rock, Crescent Beach at Ecola, and Arch Cape inspire otherwise ordinary travelers to pick up a paintbrush or sit at a pottery wheel and start producing first-rate artwork?
Whatever the order of things, Cannon Beach has become one of the West Coast’s foremost creative colonies. It’s been ranked among the nation’s 100 Best Art Towns by the nonprofit Americans for the Arts, and some of the town’s festivals — notably Get Lit at the Beach, Spring Unveiling Arts Festival, Plein Air & More, and Stormy Weather Arts Festival — make for great opportunities to meet local artists. Just about any day of the year, however, you’ll discover ample inspiration for getting your creative juices flowing. Here are a few inspiring activities to include on your weekend itinerary.
The Cannon Beach Gallery & Arts Association hosts a number of events and exhibitions that promote the town’s arts scene, as well as a summer art camp for creative spirits of all ages. But there’s always an intriguing new show at the association’s headquarters on South Hemlock Street. The Cannon Beach Gallery Group is another important arts incubator and the sponsor of well-attended, annual events. The organization comprises about a dozen gallery members, including the esteemed Bronze Coast Gallery, which for nearly 25 years has promoted the art of bronze casting and exhibited sculptures along with fine paintings, photography and drawings.
Among the town’s other exceptional galleries, check out DragonFire Gallery, where the focus is squarely on bold, contemporary paintings, ceramics, glass work, fiber art, and mixed-media compositions, and Icefire Glassworks, which features the intricate work of artist-owners James Kingwell and Suzanne Kindland as well as glass-blowing demonstrations. Showing works by some 15 members, Found carries distinctive pieces that range from affordable stained-glass nightlights and pottery mugs to large-scale paintings and handmade furniture.
One of the state’s beloved community theaters, Coaster Theatre Playhouse presents a mix of plays and musicals and also introduces the theater experience with young aspiring actors through spring, summer, and winter camps. The esteemed Cannon Beach Chorus is another cultural treasure, performing both traditional choral concerts in spring and summer and lively cabaret in summer.
The community-based nonprofit Tolovana Arts Colony also offers a wide range of performing and visual arts classes, from weaving workshops to ukulele and belly dancing instruction. You can also get in touch with your physical creative side by taking a class at Cannon Beach Yoga Arts. In late February, devotees of this discipline also attend the Cannon Beach Yoga Festival.
Culinary Classes & Craft Beverages
Not all art is for looking at. The culinary arts are alive and well in Cannon Beach, and they reflect the same creative spirit. While it’s easy to get a taste of place at the many acclaimed restaurants, you can also hone your skills with hands-on cooking class. EVOO: Cannon Beach Cooking School offers a wide range of food-prep courses (from artisan bread making to classic omelets) and convivial dinner show experiences, during which participants socialize in the art-filled kitchen-bar area and watch instructors prepare delicious food and pair with regional wines.
After a full day of artistic immersion, it’s time to unwind with a drink or two. An award-winning spot is Cannon Beach Distillery, which turns out superb handcrafted spirits. Oenophiles can sip Oregon wine at the Wine Shack, stocking an exhaustive selection and providing samples in its tasting room, and the Wine Bar at Sweet Basil’s Cafe pouring vino from a weekly changing bottle menu. Craft beer has also taken the town by storm, with newcomers Pelican Brewing and Public Coast Brewing Company joining longtime favorite, Bill’s Tavern & Brewhouse. Wherever you choose to raise a glass, you’ll find yourself moved by this spirited beach town and maybe even planning another sojourn to rekindle your creative spark.
Photo Courtesy of Cannon Beach Distillery