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Updates from Leith Gaines

5.29.20 Our amazing creative community

I love artists. Can’t get enough of them. They are my peeps.

They are brave searchers of expression who provide us with the mirror we need to survive as a species. I am proud to work with them and on occasion join them. We are creating and responding and giving our best.

I have my wonderful staff back at work. Hurray! We are moving forward with reopening the Gallery on June 5 with the beautiful Essential: Ebb and Flow exhibit of work by 4 woman artists centered around the theme of water – the flow of life. Come bathe in it live or online. CCA’s website is launching new on line gallery sales and our social media abounds with content to serve our community. Summer camps are just around the corner and CCA will be primed with health protocols to keep the kids and staff safe to learn and have fun.

We are all doing our best to accept and function in this new world. It continues to be a roller coaster ride of good and not-so-good days.  But through it all art lights the way.  Onward we go, together.

5.3.20 Hearing from you:

I found this quote by potter and poet M.C Richards M.C. Richards that captures how art plays an important role in this time of COVID:

“Our role is to live ourselves as ART – knowing that we are needed in the great ongoing evolutionary story.  For art making is a form of meditation and of prayer – an affirmation of wholeness, of community, and in fact, a celebration.  What should I be doing with my life?  Feeding the hungry, comforting the sick, gathering up the homeless?  Ah, I am trying to do that, my soul says: l am beginning with permitting my own hunger, illness, lost-ness, reaching for healing and wholeness, finding my way through the arts as well as through community and agriculture.”


As CCA”s Director without a staff and venue, I ask myself every day, what can we do as an organization to support our community? It is the curse of the big picture headspace. Whether it’s about how to save CCA or the even bigger picture of how the world will regroup. When I give into it, I spiral into the chaos of how to succeed with old plans in the new unknown. So I must bring myself back to sanity and focus “finding my way through the arts”.


To not operate alone, I recently reached out to you with a survey through our e-newsletter and Facebook asking for some honest input on whether CCA is doing its job as a community arts center. If you have not already, please help us out by taking the survey. Your feedback will help inform us how to move forward. Thank you! (LINK?)


Moving forward, the CCA Gallery will soon be launching an online sales of artwork before Mother’s Day. Check out our shop!


Also, on First Friday, June 5th we will open a new exhibit in the gallery: Essential: Ebb and Flow, featuring work by Sorcha Meek, Jane Pagliarulo, Michelle Yamamoto and Kristie Strasen. We are planning on line sales opportunities and the gallery will be open to visitors by private appointment only.


We are working on a spotlight performance project which I hope to tell you more about soon. We plan to invite individuals into our dark theatre to light up the stage with moments of inspiration to be shared on our YouTube channel and social media. Stay Tuned!


Hope to see you soon on line or contact us for a private visit:

Stay safe and enjoy spring in full bloom.


4/16/20 Gratitude:

I am grateful that CCA stays committed to find our place in the time of COVID-19. We plan to be ready to serve our community again as soon as our doors reopen.

I have such gratitude for the overworked, exhausted souls working around the clock on the front line to save lives and keep us safe. They are our true heroes.

My next-in-line short list of artist heroes what I give thanks for keeping my feet on the ground:

Local artists MacRae Wylde for responding to our world today with his robust artwork






Lady Gaga and her effort to pull together a worldwide TogetherAtHome concert the Saturday to celebrate all those working to stop the spread COVID-19

Chris Mann for his hilariously talented music parodies that keep me laughing

Behold the Puffer Fish– this video says it all


Just a quick update today. You might enjoy reading this article “Why we need the arts now more than ever” in The Globe and Mail.

“The arts have often used their economic impact to justify their existence – and their widely varying levels of subsidy – to governments, but behind that argument lie real social needs. The arts provide the reassurance of narrative, the peace of contemplation and, most of all, the power of community, experiences that can be hard to define but which the current crisis is laying bare.”


Hi All:

I haven’t written in a while because I am bombarded with so much screen information hitting me at hyper speed I’m dazed and confused. I have lost my bearings on the sources…the television, emails, Instagram, FB, the kajillion texts from friends? Who knows? Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for all the laughs and tears and truly beautiful moments shared from around the world.

Piercing the fog of screen overload one message is clear – we are all in this together and reaching out is a big part of making it through. What I am seeing in the world of arts is immediate ingenuity to connect creatively.

Whether it’s Chris Martin From Cold Play initiating #TogetherAtHome, artists teaching classes on line for free, Jack Black’s TikTok, people dressing up as their favorite painting, or the stunning remote performance of Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra… artists are rising to the occasion with creative expression and we all are blessed to share the beauty of the human spirit right alongside the difficulties we are facing.

Artists are primed to respond to uncertain times because our practice is to stay in the process and let go of the outcome. We are less afraid of the unknown in our work. In fact, it is the unknown that inspires us. So I believe the work of the artists today is to help all of us let go of fear of a future that has yet to transpire and find beauty in what we as humans are creating now.

CCA is working on how we can help our community. One way is to share creative inspiration. If you have something you would like us to post on our website please send us a video, photos or words to


Stay Safe and Healthy


P.S. Shout out to the HR Chamber and Blue Collar for their work on the Artsy April Campaign. Thanks Tom for my new photo.


In this uncertain time I find it difficult to navigate through each day. It’s challenging to stay focused on the task at hand when unprecedented information flood my thoughts. Each morning I wake in a new world wondering what will happen next. Thankfully, CCA has taken recommended precautions by following protocol put in place by our city, state and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), (links below). My staff and I are working safely from home committed to finding solutions for how we can serve our community during this global pandemic. Our long term solution is to continue planning futures art exhibits, events and educational programs. You can rely on us to be ready to go as soon as our doors reopen. I am hopeful our venue will be thriving with arts camps this summer. Until then we will bring you enriching arts experiences on our website.  Today we launch new content on our homepage with pages designed by our staff linking you to online experiences in fine art, music, theatre and performing arts. We will continue to search for and update content that supports our mission tocultivate the arts in the Columbia River Gorge by providing experiences that touch the heart, challenge the intellect, and spark conversation.

Below are links to responses and protocol from our government agencies.

Also, please visit the links to the National Endowment for the Arts and Americans for the Arts to learn how the arts are being supported on a national level.

Stay healthy and tuned in.

Leith Gaines
Executive Director
Columbia Center for the Arts

3/24/20 – Together Apart

To all our generous audiences, patrons and artists – CCA is here to serve you during this time of disbelief, confusion and worry. After taking a long breath to accept what is going on around us, I arrive at the belief that we are in a time of opportunity for new awareness and creativity. CCA closed its doors last week out of respect to the general consensus that is it safer for the community not to gather in public spaces. To keep our audiences, artists and staff safe our doors will stay closed until April 10th or until further notice.

CCA is a venue-driven nonprofit organization that survives on ticketed events, art gallery sales, individual donations and grants. As we all know, closing our doors will cause a significant loss in revenue. Our new challenge is how to continue to serve our community. At times of crisis and social isolation the arts play a vital role in reminding all of us that we are an inherently creative species. What we create, whether with words, movement, music, film, paper, paint, metal, clay… all comes from inspiration and a need to express the moment. There is hope in beauty, and beauty surrounds us and is within us at all times. What I love about artists is their willingness to share what they see and feel with all of us. They provide opportunity for communal experience in whatever they create. We need that now more than ever as we worry about a secure future of our families and friends.

That is why CCA is dedicated to carrying out our mission and find ways to uplift and inspire you by providing arts experiences on our website and social media. We are working on content so keep your eyes open. We hope to engage the community by bringing experiences to you and also encouraging you to share with us any work that comes out of you during this time.

We are asking for donations to help us retain our talented staff who work diligently to provide our program content.

We remain together though we are apart. Art mirrors who we are and how we will creatively respond to the impact of the corona virus around the world. CCA will do our best to share with you what the mirror reflects.

May you stay safe and live in gratitude.


Leith Gaines
Executive Director

Important information for you:

National Details from the CDC

World Health Organization

Oregon Department of Human Services

Hood River Chamber of Commerce has a COVID-19 Resources page here. 

Hood River County EOC (Emergency Operations Center) partnership website for local Hood River residents has a shared public information about COVID response here.

Hood River County Emergency Management
COVID PUBLIC INFO CALL IN LINE (updated daily or as conditions change):
ENGLISH                              541-399-8022
SPANISH                              541-399-8023

Hood River is made up of many small businesses that can be particularly hard hit by the COVID restrictions and closures. SBA loans are now available from federal government for local small businesses – EIDL (Economic Injury disaster loans.) The deadline to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan is Dec. 16, 2020.

To apply for SBA loans:

For business and unemployment resources please visit:

Health restrictions – social distancing
Please see the latest Hood River Public Health Public Service Announcements for the latest health restrictions in the COVID emergency:

Please remember, all of these measures are intended to stem the growth of the virus. We are lucky to be in a remote area with limited access to larger populations.
Our County is following state and federal guidelines for social distancing and urge you to do the same – to help prevent the spread of the virus to our community.

Americans for the Arts Action Fund

National Endowment for the Arts

Columbia Center for the Arts

215 Cascade Avenue
PO Box 1543
Hood River, OR 97031
(541) 387-8877
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Center Hours

Tuesday-Sunday , 10am-5pm

Open Christmas eve (12/24) 10am- 2pm



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