The first thing people noticed during the annual Art Walk in downtown Hermiston Saturday was the wind. With wind speeds gusting up toward 30 miles per hour, artists were spending as much time holding down their canopies and hanging on to their artwork as they were talking about their art.
But once people got a look at the art on display, the conversation quickly turned to Hermiston’s impressive art community.
“You don’t realize how many wonderful artists there are in the area,” said Theresa Collins, who runs Metal and Musical Arts in Umatilla with her husband, Jerry. Collins teaches piano and Jerry is a custom metal artist. They managed to snag an indoor space inside of P-4 & More where Jerry’s metal art was on display. Both Theresa and Jerry have been regulars at the Art Walk for years.
Ron Cochet, an air brush artist, has been taking part in the Art Walk for several years. Like Collins, Cochet said there are more great artists in the Hermiston area than one might think.
“Hermiston is a little under-advertised as far as the art community goes,” he said. Cochet runs River Raz Air Brush in Hermiston. He not only creates and sells his art, but he also teaches the air brush technique.
“The most important thing is how to control the air brush,” he said. The key, he said, is to know how much air to let out, while at the same time, knowing how much paint you want to release.
“It’s not easy, but I don’t believe anything is easy,” he said. Cochet uses any number of items as a canvass for his art. He does a lot of work on motorcycles and cars, but also air brushes ceramics, T-shirts, bowling pins and signs, as well as regular palettes. He’s even air brushed someone’s refrigerator.
“It was for the Super Bowl and, man, it really let people know they were in for a good time,” Cochet said.
Artist Steve Winn of Hermiston began painting more than 25 years ago, but said he kind of got away from it when life got in the way.
“Work and family sort of took over,” he said. “But my wife, before she passed away, said ‘You really need to start painting again.’ So I dedicate my art to her.” Saturday was Winn’s first time displaying his art at the Art Walk, but he’s participated in other art shows in the past.
“I’m sort of a reluctant artist,” he said. “It’s fun doing the art, but when I have to prepare for a show, it becomes a job.” But a good job, Winn said. Sitting in a comfortable chair talking about his art beats his old job.
“I was a paper maker at the Wallula paper mill for 25 years,” he said. “I like this a lot more.”
Collins said she and her husband take part in several art shows throughout the year, but really enjoy the Art Walk in particular. She likes the festival atmosphere.
“This is one of our favorite art shows,” Theresa said. “I think something like this is so important for the whole family to come down and meet the artists. It gives kids an idea that they might want to be an artist.”
Not all the artists at the Art Walk were art show veterans. Dan Earp was displaying his art for the very first time Saturday. He specializes in photography and pencil drawing. Earp, who works at the Hermiston Parks and Recreation Department, said he got his start in photography five years ago while in college.
“I got into pencil art about 11 years ago, but I’ve been drawing all my life,” he said.
Along with the two dozen artists displaying their works, Saturday’s event also featured a number of musical bands, dancers, food and children’s activities.