Artists glad to see customers face-to-face at Art in the Pearl

Multnomah County

One artist said Art in the Pearl was one of the first events he's gone to outside his studio

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Art in the Pearl returned Labor Day weekend and artists said they’re glad to see people in-person after the 2020 event was held virtually. 

For the 2021 in-person event, people are asked to wear masks. Art in the Pearl Director and pottery maker Ginger Steele said they bought 4,000 masks to hand out to people in case they need them. She said so far, the crowds have been great and have participated in making it a safe event. 

Art in the Pearl has continued in Portland’s northwest neighborhood for 25 years. Steele said after canceling the in-person event in 2020, they decided to give it a go in 2021. 

“We decided to have a festival this year, during that little happy period in about March-April  when COVID was going down and things looked good,” Steele said. “After much deliberation, we decided because we have an outdoor event, to… invite our artists to come and invite the public to come.” 

Artist Jesse Reno stands in his booth at Art in the Pearl. Photo courtesy Jesse Reno @JesseReno

Portland Artist Jesse Reno said so far, the festival’s been a success. 

“It’s one of the first events I’ve gotten to do outside of my studio, where I can actually interact with people, so I’m pretty excited myself,” Reno said. 

He said it’s a rare opportunity to greet customers one-on-one. 

“Being cooped up and making  your art is kind of nice. But without any personal interaction, you start getting a little cuckoo,” he said. 

Steele said she’s enjoyed seeing people who purchased her pieces years ago and still use them. 

“That and that really kind of closes the circle because we make our work pretty much in solitude,” she said. 

Volunteer Alex Cain said the event is a way for people to experience Portland’s vibrancy to its fullest. 

“Last year it didn’t happen with the pandemic happening and  fortunately it’s happening this weekend through Monday,” Cain said. 

The festival continues Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the North Park Blocks. There will be belly dancers and drum performances. 

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