Arts center seeks new designs

Transformation begins on former Legion hall

The board of the Columbia Center for the Arts is looking for a few good artists. Actually, it’s looking for any artists interested in helping to develop concepts for the design of the exterior of the new center, at 215 Cascade Ave.

“We want their creative juices to just flow,” said Judie Hanel, chair of the center. The Columbia Center for the Arts will bring together the Columbia Art Gallery and the CAST Performing Arts Center under one roof in the building previously owned and occupied by the American Legion.

The artists’ concepts can be in any format — including sketches, paintings and three-dimensional models. A packet, including line drawings from architect Art Larsen showing the building with proposed entryway and window additions, is available for interested artists.

The center’s board plans to kick off a formal fundraising campaign later this summer to raise money for the purchase of the building from a private entity as well as for the renovations. According to Hanel, $150,000 of the $900,000 goal has already been raised.

The renovations will begin after at least $475,000 has been raised to purchase the building — a goal Hanel hopes to reach within a year.

In the meantime, Hood River artist Mark Nilsson has offered to paint murals on the building’s north side. The west side of the building, on 3rd Street, will soon bear a sign announcing its future as Hood River’s arts center. Mark Dane, chairman of the renovation committee, also plans to have artists — including school children — paint small, interchangeable murals to brighten up the walls on that side of the building until renovations begin.

The Columbia Center for the Arts will host an open house during July’s First Friday — which is also the Fourth of July. The center will be open from 2 to 8 p.m. for tours. Visitors will have an opportunity to see the board’s vision for the new center, including potential renovation plans.

Artists who have finished concepts done by July 4 will be able to display them during the open house. The deadline for the artists’ concepts is July 25.

Packets are available to artists at the Columbia Art Gallery, or by contacting Mark Dane at 387-3586 or by e-mail at

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