SMU arts study ranking recognizes this ‘special place’

wood art by Anna Laxaque, on display in the artist’s cooperative at The Frame Gallery, exemplifies the vibrant local arts scene recognized by the SMU study.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
wood art by Anna Laxaque, on display in the artist’s cooperative at The Frame Gallery, exemplifies the vibrant local arts scene recognized by the SMU study.



Hood River finds itself on many lists these days — lists that point out the area’s recreational opportunities, scenery and livability, its restaurants, orchards, craft breweries and wineries.

Many of us may secretly cringe when we see this, thinking the secret will get out and our little piece of paradise will be discovered and overrun.

But this summer, we made the top of another list that I think we all ought to be celebrating. Southern Methodist University’s National Center for Arts Research conducts a biannual study that ranks the vibrancy of arts and culture in communities across the nation. Think of it as a way to determine the comparative health of art communities nationally.

In the 2018 study, Hood River ranked fourth out of all the small communities in the nation (populations of less than 100,000). Yes, that’s fourth in the entire country, just behind Edwards, Colo., Jackson, Wyo., and Summit Park, Utah. And Hood River had the smallest population of any of the top 10 small communities listed.

The study mentioned the large number and range of artists, art organizations, public street art, and world-class museums in the area.

From the data presented, it’s obvious that much of the support for art in the community comes from the private sector rather than the government. We all deserve a pat on the back for this.

(I’m a little disappointed to see that the area’s vibrant music scene didn’t get a mention — ha ha. We’ll have to work on that for next time.)

In the meantime, take some time to hear some music, take in some art or visit a museum. We live in a special place.

Tim Mayer of Hood River works as a hydrologist when he is not playing the piano and singing in solo or ensemble gigs around the Gorge.



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