Coming into the station this summer . . . Artrain

Published on Thu, Feb 21, 2002 by Meg Olson

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Coming into the station this summer . . . Artrain

By Meg Olson

In March organizers of the Peace Arch Park International Art Festival will unveil the crown jewel of this year’s event – a visit from Artrain U.S.A. and a travelling exhibition of the American artist’s view of space.

“We’re planning a public meeting in mid-March for anyone who wants to know about the train or sponsor the visit,” said event organizer Christina Alexander. “This is an exciting thing for Blaine. How many events of this caliber do we actually have the setup for that fit right in with the whole of our community history? One of the first things that attracted me is that we have the tracks right here. The original Peace Arch was over the railroad tracks.”

Since 1971 Artrain had been touring the country bringing a rolling museum made up of five rail cars to communities that might not have their own museums and art collections. In addition to a three-car gallery, the train has a studio car, for hands-on art programs, and a caboose. Its mission – to encourage art appreciation, revitalize local arts organizations and draw visitors to smaller communities.

In Blaine, the Artrain will pull into the Burlington Northern railway siding at the north end of Marine Drive from July 18-21. On board this year is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) exhibition, Artistry in Space, featuring works celebrating the U.S. space program from 1963 to 1999. The exhibition includes works by Norman Rockwell, Peter Max, Andy Warhol and James Browning Wyeth. The first of the gallery cars covers NASA’s formative years during the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo mission and the race for the moon. In the second car, the space shuttle and scheduled trips into space mark the evolution of the space program and the third car looks to the future and farthest corners of the universe through missions like the Mars Pathfinder, Voyager and the Hubble telescope.

“Having a world class exhibit visit our city should help attract visitors from the entire northwest,” said Alexander. She added a company is already planning bus tours to Blaine for the event. “In booking their tour they’re also looking at other attractions in the area,” Alexander said.

Visits to the Artrain are free, though they do solicit donations to keep the program rolling. Communities where the Artrain stops are expected to pick up 20 percent of the cost of the stop, which comes to about $9,000.
In January Blaine city council awarded $10,000 of lodging tax funds to the U.S. Canada Peace Anniversary organization, organizers of the annual sculpture exhibition in Peace Arch State Park and mid-summer art festival, to bring the Artrain to Blaine. The organization also received $10,500 to sponsor the sculpture and art festivals.

The March open house will present some of the group’s whole summer art package and Alexander hopes to attract sponsorships to help fund and promote the Artrain and the art festival running concurrently in the state park.

The festival will also include an art sale, music, special exhibits and live art demonstrations. “We’ll have other activities going on in the park and in town,” Alexander promised..

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