Operated by the Mt. Adams Chamber of Commerce, the Northshore Community Foundation was created in 2016 to foster awareness and innovation in art, food and beverages among Gorge residents by providing grants, scholarships, educational programs and events which feature and focus on these aspects.
The annual Art & Wine Fusion event is one example of how the foundation works toward a sustainable economy by showcasing local talents and bringing visitors from across the region to partake of what the Columbia River Gorge has to offer.
“Input equals output,” said Mt. Adams Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tammara Tippel.
“For now, the Northshore Community Foundation primarily supports the Art & Wine Fusion event. As the Foundation develops more partnerships and projects like the ‘Oh Joy of Joys’ statue this year, we envision our output momentum to pick up pace. The Foundation bylaws are currently being reviewed for potential updates as needed and we are in the process of defining what the ‘output’ looks like. As our mission statement indicates, we hope to offer scholarships or grants annually, as well as to continue to make continuous improvements with the Art & Wine Fusion event,” added Tippel.
At the Feb. 5 Bingen City Council, Tippel presented an idea on behalf of the Northshore Community Foundation and the Citizen Advisory Council (CAC) to create an art walk in Bingen, beginning with a locally made bronze statue of Guillermo “Willy” Fisch, which will be unveiled at the Art & Wine Fusion Festival this summer.
Guillermo Fisch was a Bingen resident and former city councilor, with a passion for art, wine, food, and above all, people. For many newcomers to Bingen or White Salmon, one of their first social occasions would be the weekly open-invitation dinner parties, which he hosted with his wife Jeri.
Connecting with people and connecting them to each other was a joy for Guillermo, or as his friends and family called him, Willy.
It is partly because of Willy that the Art & Wine Fusion Festival will be changing locations again and will be held in Daubenspeck Park in Bingen.
“A primary reason for the move is the introduction of the ‘Oh Joy of Joys’ project partnership. Celebrating this grand piece of artwork coming to Bingen and being able to do the unveiling at the event is going to be exciting,” said Tippel.
There are also some logistical issues with the event that the chamber hopes may be smoother in having it take place at Daubenspeck Park this year. Aspects of the park such as a covered stage, eliminating the cost of renting one, and flatter ground making it easier for those who are handicapped to traverse. Not to mention that the park is also easily spotted upon entering Bingen.
“We have found that visitors have had a difficult time locating Rheingarten Park – even with roadway signage,” said Tippel.
Another reason for moving the event is that the city of Bingen is seeing positive changes happening and this year will be absolutely buzzing with activity.
“With the opening of The Society Hotel and The Garage event space this spring, as well as other small businesses that have sprung up in Bingen recently – our board felt this was the right decision to change venues as part of our own event refresh,” said Tippel.
Art & Wine Fusion was originally created to showcase the small businesses along Jewett Boulevard in White Salmon. It eventually outgrew the downtown street because it became increasingly difficult to completely set up, operate, and tear down inside a 12-hour window to have the street open again for regular traffic. In 2015 the event moved to Rheingarten Park. That brought ease and comfort to the event, but resulted in a lack of participation from locals.
“We are communicating with the White Salmon Arts Council to see if they would be interested in participating in some way. Perhaps conducting a juried art show which could result in artwork being displayed in local businesses after the event? This would be a nice element to the fusion,” said Tippel.
In order to entice more local talent to bring out their goods, the chamber board decided to waive the artist fees for 2019. This will mean an increased vetting to ensure diversity and quality. The board wants the Art & Wine Fusion to experience an uplift of positive energy and synergy with the community partners as it welcomes several thousand guests to Daubenspeck Park for the unveiling of the magnificent bronze statue and the festival of sights, sounds, and tastes.
“These people will be experiencing our communities, not just the event. Hopefully they’re buying things along the way and making reservations to return,” said Tippel.
The council had some questions for Tippel as to how all of this will play out.
“We have not yet fully flushed out the answers to the council’s questions, such as how will these art installment projects continue after this first one is complete? Will they all be statues or mixed mediums? Will they be in White Salmon also?” said Tippel.
Tippel noted that the answers to these questions will depend on the community involvement and willingness to volunteer and participate where needed.
“Everyone has a different reason for their desire to help and we have many diverse tasks to be accomplished, sometimes only one day per year,” said Tippel.
The main goal of the Northshore Community Foundation is to be a resource to the Mt. Adams Chamber membership and Columbia Gorge Community, with a focus on Klickitat and Skamania counties.
The current board leans toward youth recipients of the scholarships to be used on local programs.
“Nothing is completely defined and locked in. This is still a new foundation ready to be a bigger part of the community in 2019. We will be at the Insitu Non-Profit Showcase on February 21st. I hope everyone who is able to come will stop and say hello,” said Tippel.
When asked about other potential projects from the foundation, Tippel said they are just visions and dreams at this point, but the foundation would love to see Bingen gain new art installments at least every other year.
“It is a perfect community to establish a self-guided Art Walk brochure and to let people experience the community while seeking the items,” said Tippel.
This is an open conversation at this point, but some ideas that could be looked at would include artwork inside the round-a-bout that will be put on SR14 in the near future or at the Port of Klickitat along the walking paths, or in Daubenspeck Park, or just tucked into the various public areas of town.
Whether the community focuses on bronze sculptures or a variety of mediums, the art installments would be a draw to any town and potentially cause people driving through to stop and look around.
“The Goldendale Chamber is the lead on a new project to develop a Farm to Fork Trail brochure for Klickitat County. There may be opportunities as this develops to utilize the Foundation in the food and beverage realm of our mission statement. We want to listen to the ideas of our friends and neighbors to ensure we consider all the options and make the best decisions,” said Tippel.