Fire on The Water

A Dragon Boat Art Show

consumer on the water

Alea Bone is both an artist and a dragon boater. So it seemed natural for her to combine the two.  After her small dragon boat-themed art show was a hit last year, Alea decided to take her vision big time. This time her show, opening in the rotunda at P5: Portland'5Center for Performing Arts on June 4, includes 75 artists. Alea talked to UAN about how she wound up with such a big curation job, and how her experience can help other ambitious artists put on their dream shows.

Join a Team

Three years ago, a friend told Alea about an open seat on her dragon boat. “I jumped at the opportunity to join since I had never been on any kind of team before, having never done sports as a kid,” she said. You don’t have to join an actual sports team, but the team idea is vital for successful collaborations. Think about who’s on your creative team.

You May Have More Experience Than You Think

Alea hadn’t put together a show of this magnitude before. But she recognized that she could call on skills learned elsewhere.I had a bit of experience organizing a large fundraising event at my son's elementary school, so I had a sense of what it would take to pull this off,” she said. What have you done outside the artistic arena that you can use to further your creative career? Give yourself credit for the many skills you’ve accumulated in life.


Go Ahead and Ask

When Alea envisioned the perfect venue for the dragon boat show, she knew it had to be big. She first thought of P5: Portland’5 Center for Performing Arts when she went to see her friend Anna Magruder’s art show there. Anna put Alea in touch with the executive director. “I assumed they were booked up for the year and since my show had to be in June to coincide with the Rose Festival Dragon boat races, I thought I could at least get the ball rolling for next year,” Alea said. “I never dreamed that by some magical twist of fate, the month of June would actually be available!” Even if you’re scared or doubt things will work out, go ahead and take a chance. Set up a meeting. Ask.

Give Others a Hand Up

The 75 artists in the dragon boat show range from big names in the local art world to some who have never shown before. “It feels pretty wonderful to be able to provide an opportunity for a few unknowns,” Alea said. “I wanted this show to represent a diverse cross section of Portland talent.” Media represented includes wood carving, wood burning, ceramics, photography, painting, printmaking, collage, mixed-media assemblage, mosaic and encaustic.


Hitch Yourself to a Star

What’s more locally famous than Portland’s Rose Festival? Not much. Alea realized the show could get more press and provide lots of hybrid marketing opportunities if she could get it listed as an official Rose Fest event. “I learned that it would cost $400 to get all the perks, but we had already missed the deadline for a few of them,” Alea said. She negotiated the fee to $200 for a listing on the Rose Fest online calendar and in the glossy parade program magazine. But she had to present a sampling of the show at the Rose Festival Board of Directors Spring Board Meeting. “It felt intimidating at first, but then I reminded myself that everyone loves art—and dragons,” Alea said. “And I was representing some of the best art this town has to offer, so I was proud to share my concept of this show.” She wowed the board with 10 of the pieces that had already been submitted. 

Alea asked the artists in the show whether Rose Festival sanctioning was worth $200 to them. Twenty-three artists immediately responded with contributions ranging from five to twenty dollars. Alea is thrilled with “what a community can be capable of if we combine our efforts.”


“Fire on the Water” opens First Thursday, June 4 and runs thru June 30 at Antoinette Hatfield Hall, 1111 SW Broadway. Opening reception, June 4, 5-8 pm.

To learn more about the show, check out these links:

— by Teresa Bergen,