For a new twist on beachcombing, head to Cannon Beach for a wintery weekend of browsing and buying art. With more than a dozen galleries and a thriving arts center, Cannon Beach has been named one of “The 100 Best Art Towns in America” by author John Villani in his book of the same name. Many of the art galleries here are threaded along the main strip of Hemlock Street, which is serviced by a free shuttle, making it easy to wend your way through regional art in a variety of mediums — from glass to oil painting.
Two pioneering galleries paved the way for the city’s thriving art scene. White Bird Gallery, founded in 1971, and Haystack Gallery, opened in 1977, represent numerous Northwest and regional artists working in a variety of media and styles, including oil, watercolor, jewelry, hand-tinted etchings, photography, sculpture and more.
To get a sense for how the regional art scene has grown, you won’t want to miss the following spots that offer an introductory survey of the eclectic local scene. Visit the Cannon Beach Arts Association for changing exhibits of regional and local artists working in fine arts and crafts, as well as a small gift shop with cards, jewelry and books produced by area artists. North by Northwest Gallery features well-known regional sculptors, painters and photographers. And at Modern Villa Gallery, artists take a contemporary approach to landscapes, seascapes, city scenes and architecture with bold, colorful paintings, prints and sculptural glass.
Today, a number of other galleries showcase both established regional artists as well as edgier newcomers. Archimedes Gallery focuses on emerging artists, with many working in illustration. Bold colors are a hallmark of DragonFire Gallery and its distinctive jewelry and wearable art, painting, sculpture, glass, ceramics, photography, textiles and garden art. The Bronze Coast Gallery highlights cast sculptures, with all manner of classic and contemporary bronze sculptures on view.
Feeling famished after all that gallery hopping? Stop at The Wine Shack for a selection of exceptional regional wines, including 60 Oregon pinot noirs. The tasting room (open from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays) is a cozy spot to unwind during the winter months. Next, hit the Cannon Beach Café. It exudes an artsy Parisian vibe and is the perfect spot for enjoying a warm bowl of French onion soup. Save dessert for the Chocolate Café, a heavenly oasis of chocolate from around the world, which features a menu of elegant truffles, chocolates and treats from regional chocolatiers. Finally, you’ll want to indulge in the art of relaxation at Ocean Spa, with its wide menu of massage, body treatments and facials.
Painting by David Jonathan Marshall at Modern Villa Gallery