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Grants Pass gets artsy

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Move over Ashland, Grants Pass is artsy, too

Children’s drawings line up along with the work of professionals at the annual Art Along the Rogue in Grants Pass.

JOSEPHINE COUNTY — Think Southern Oregon and the arts and most people name the Oregon Shakespeare Festival or the Britt Festival in Jackson County. But an up-and-coming arts scene next door in Josephine County is starting to give its neighbors a run for their money. The Arts & Economic Prosperity III study, released in June, found the arts in Josephine County generate $2.81 million annually and provide 77 full-time jobs. The total includes spending by arts organizations and event-related spending by audiences on expenses such as hotels, restaurants, parking and souvenirs. (Jackson County was not included in the study.)

A number of events contribute to the nascent arts industry in Josephine County. First Friday art walks in Grants Pass draw 1,000 to 1,500 people every month, while 30 miles away Cave Junction offers its own Second Friday version. And the lack of chichi galleries doesn’t slow down local artists who are hosted by pizza parlors, shoe stores and other county businesses.

Grants Pass’ most serious play for “artsy” status is Art Along the Rogue, an October music and street chalk art event. Artists blanket a downtown street with huge chalk “paintings,”original creations and reproductions of famous works. Musical groups play bluegrass, funk, folk, blues and salsa to entertain the art-loving crowds which in past years have numbered close to 10,000 people.

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