In 1985 Art Hupy, director and curator of La Conner’s Skagit Valley Art Museum (which would evolve into the Museum of Northwest Art), had an inspired idea – an art festival in La Conner that would generate the same kind of artistic excitement he saw at an arts festival he had visited as a photographer in Aspen, Colorado.
He described the plan to his friends – local artists, businesses, and art patrons in the Skagit Valley and Seattle. Among those friends were renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly and author, chef and philosopher Angelo Pellegrini. Chihuly agreed to design and create a hand-blown glass wine decanter for which Pelligrini would provide the home made wine which would be a centerpiece for the event.
So began “Arts Alive in 85,” a festival that encouraged local artists to show off their work. The program included art exhibits at the Skagit Valley Art Museum and Barkley’s Pub (today known as Nell Thorn).
Since then the event has been held every November and has grown throughout the years. Thousands of artists have participated over that time, with several hundred showing their work each year. Artists such as Charles Krafft, Philip McCracken, Robert Sund and Max Benjamin have all been participants of this growing Northwest art festival. Most recently the 2008 exhibit drew about 2000 people to its location at Maple Hall and artists demonstrated their technique at 17 galleries and boutiques in La Conner.
La Conner Arts Alive