by Judith Walden

What makes a vibrant and growing art scene in a community?  Well, artists of course, but what about all the things making up the framework that artists operate in?  According to Marika Garvey, Artists in Action’s new Publicity Coordinator, a big part of the equation is volunteers. This is something Garvey is very familiar with, as she volunteers as a gallery guide at the Salem Art Association in addition to her position with AIA.

Artists in Action, which was started in 1999, was established to get Salem artists involved with each other and the community, and to promote and support creative endeavors. The organization has no paid staff and all the work is performed by volunteers.  AiA manages and presents a calendar of popular Salem events including Paint The Town, the Something Red Art Walk and Exhibit, and in alternate years the Willamette Valley Open Studios Tour. Artists in Action also participates in other events throughout the year including a booth at the World Beat Festival, the Outside the Box auction at the Salem Art Fair and shows at the Salem Public Library, CCTV, and the Capitol. There is also an ongoing showing of members’ work at the Spinnaker Place building.

May marks the beginning of AIA’s first event of the year, Paint The Town, their much anticipated “en plein air” painting extravaganza, which culminates in October at the Elsinore  Gallery with a show of work from the event. This is the 18th year AIA has put on Paint the Town.  An exciting change this year is the addition of a poetry element.  The poets of the Mid Willamette Valley Poet Society will be joining in at various sites to “Write the Town” and compose poetry about the painting sites included in the event.  Painting sites for the event are among the most diverse, beautiful, and interesting in the area.  Also new this year is a workshop presented by well-known plein air painter Mike Rangner of Albany.

Despite the paint specific nature of “Paint the Town” Garvey stresses that AIA membership is open to artists in all media.  Garvey lists fiber art, metal work, wood work, photography, and ceramic art as some of the media represented among AIA’s membership.  The organization is a resource for established and emerging artists and newcomers to the area, providing connections to the local art community, support, ideas, and information. Meetings are held the third Tuesday of each month at 6:00 PM, and are open to everyone. Garvey states that she attended several meetings before joining, and cites the information and connections as one of her favorite aspects of the organization.

Garvey joined AIA about a year ago. She is enthusiastic about the group, and what it brings to Salem and to individual artists.  For the community she says “AIA brings the idea of art to people who aren’t necessarily exposed to it on a daily basis.  It can inspire people to try something they haven’t, or just to enjoy the art of others.”  She also returns to the subject of volunteering, pointing out that “there are always things that need to be done” and having lots of people helping ensures that Salem’s art community remains active and growing. Information on AIA can be found at:
For Paint the Town dates and locations: