In recent years, communities all across the country– from Connecticut to Texas to California — have created networks of artists’ studios and galleries known as Art Trails; a seemingly spontaneously generated and simultaneously occurring concept– an idea whose time has come.

Now, the Mid-Willamette Valley has its own Art Trail.  Tracing Hwy 99W from McMinnville to Corvallis, the Mid-Willamette Valley Art Trail provides a great new opportunity for local artists, helping them to publicize their art and market their work. Art Trail is also a wonderful resource for the community, attracting visitors and their dollars to some of the smaller towns of the valley.  And, especially, Art Trails is a wonderful resource for art lovers: on a sunny weekend day, pack a picnic lunch, include a winery or two in your itinerary, and hit the Art Trail. If, as so often happens in our corner of paradise, the weather is overcast and damp, you can still enjoy a lovely day, browsing the galleries in dry comfort and stopping for lunch at one of the area’s many excellent eateries.

The inspiration for Art Trail occurred last January, in Independence, at the annual meeting of River Gallery Partners. The members were looking for a way to create a thriving art community along the Hwy 99W corridor, with the belief that galleries working together can create a deeper connection with art throughout the Mid-Valley.  Branded as “50 Miles of Art” and beginning in McMinnville, the trail makes its way through Amity, Monmouth and Independence, winding up in Corvallis.

The Mid-Valley trail is in its infancy; currently there are 12 studios and galleries on the map, giving you a chance to see artists in their natural habitat, visit local galleries, and even, at one location, create your own art.  Presently, Art Trail comprises Currents Gallery, Marilyn Affolter Studio and Gallery, The Gallery at Ten Oaks, and The Eagles Nest Artisan Studio, all in McMinnville; Eagles Nest Carving Studio in Amity; Dan and Gail Cannon Gallery of Art, and WOU Hamersly Library, in Monmouth; River Gallery in Independence; and Fairbanks Gallery, Giustina Gallery, Pegasus Gallery, and The Arts Center, all in Corvallis.

On June 29, at 9:05 a.m. KMUZ radio (100.7 or 88.5) will broadcast an “art discussion” about the Art Trail concept. Those interested in following the Art Trail can pick up the map and brochure at any participating gallery.