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Coloring the season: Artists, Valley merchants join forces for holiday spark
Santa Claus typically seeks out milk and cookies at Christmas. But the big canvas in Snoqualmie Valley ARTS member Richard Burhans' studio shows the jolly old elf munching on a frosted green wreath-shaped doughnut.
The pastry's presence gives a clue to the painting's final destination. The canvas, created for Snoqualmie Ridge merchant Steve Pennington, owner of Steve's Doughnuts, is one of more than 30 works that Burhans and other Snoqualmie Valley ARTS members are creating as part of a holiday collaboration with Ridge and Valley businesses.
ARTS members' holiday-themed works are being hung at a number of Snoqualmie merchants. At the same time, business owners are organizing dance recitals and "Christmas Carol" performances to build seasonal spirit. Burhans and Pennington are also coordinating a similar holiday showing at North Bend's Boxley's Place.
"It's absolutely overwhelming, the fact that he would do this," Pennington said, "push it further, tie in product placement and really use this as a common spark."
Pennington is approaching his neighbors and asking them to take part.
"I'm saying, 'Who wants awesome Christmas paintings in their shop?'" Pennington said. "All they have to do is say 'yes' and provide the space."
As a bonus, Pennington has collected 10 copies of Burhans' 1994 Valley-themed Christmas book, "St. Nicholas and the Valley Beyond," written by Ellen Kushner, and will place them in several Ridge businesses.
To Burhans, the collaboration is a Christmas gift to the Valley.
"I fight to get these communities going together," he said, "Now we can really start tying this stuff together."
The Ridge holiday promotion meshes well with the ARTS league's mission. The group formed this year to put a spotlight on local creativity and increase ways that residents can discover, experience and appreciate local preforming and visual arts.
"What we've been working on for a couple of years is, little by little, coming together," Burhans said. "It's starting to blosson on the Ridge for the holidays."
"There are little pockets of enthusiasm around the Valley, people who have these ideas and want to do things," Pennington said. "If we can fan it into one big flame, it can be great."