Over the past decade, Astoria quietly became a hotbed for creatives looking for inspiration, community, space, and affordability. Now that economic times are on the rebound, how can Astoria keep its lifestyle affordable?

The Liberty Theater in Astoria, Ore.

The Liberty Theater in Astoria, Ore.

April Baer/OPB

Of course, Astoria is no stranger to the arts. Titans like photographer Robert Adams and late painter Royal Nebeker have long called it home. And now in its 13th year, the Astoria Music Festival has grown from a scrappy gathering to a lynchpin for Northwest classical music fans that draws musicians from around the world. But in recent years, there’s also been an increasing flow of young visual artists, writers, and even well-known musicians, many of whom have left Portland’s increasing costs for Astoria’s romantic grittiness and legendary beauty and light.

Snaps from our recent show taping in Astoria, examining the surging creative culture.

This show was recorded before a live audience at the glorious Liberty Theater, home to the Astoria Music Festival and seasonal programming of all kinds.

  • 1:29 - We start out the show with one of Astoria’s most vocal recent converts, writer Matt Love. He recently penned a self-declared love letter, “A Nice Piece of Astoria: A Narrative Guide.”
  • 7:12 - Astoria Music Festival’s artistic director Keith Clark and chamber music director Cary Lewis tell us about the history of festival, before being joined by Oregon Symphony concertmaster Sarah Kwak and Russian cellist Sergey Antonov for performances of Brahms Sonata for Piano and Violin, No. 2 in A major and Scriabin’s romance for Horn & Piano.
  • 28:16 - We sit down with Fort George Brewery co-founder Jack Harris, Clatsop County Commissioner Sarah Nebeker, and visual artist Darren Orange to talk about what what makes Astoria such an inspirational place for visual art, music, and the written word, and what might keep it that way in years to come.
L-R: Cellist Sergey Antonov, Blind Pilot's Israel Nebeker and Ryan Dobrowski, and host April Baer during soundcheck.

L-R: Cellist Sergey Antonov, Blind Pilot’s Israel Nebeker and Ryan Dobrowski, and host April Baer during soundcheck.

Aaron Scott / OPB

  • 36:56 - After recording their first EP in an old cannery building in Astoria (and drawing their name from the Pilot boats that help guide freighters down the Columbia), Israel Nebeker and Ryan Dobrowski gained national attention with their band Blind Pilot. They were living in Portland at the time, but they’ve since moved to the Astoria area. They share the reasons for their move, as well as play a couple songs, including a new one, “And Then Like Lions.” You can hear the full interview and performances here.

    The band has several shows around the Northwest this summer, and Dobrowski has a painting exhibition up at Imogen Gallery in Astoria through July 7.