The 15th Annual National Exhibition of the American Society of Marine Artists (ASMA) is more than a traveling exhibit for the Coos Art Museum (CAM) in Coos Bay. It is a prestigious nod from an important national arts group. The show, which runs March 22 – May 18 at the museum is supported, in part, with a $4,800 grant from the Cultural Trust.

The Coos Art Museum is one of only seven museums in the country chosen by ASMA to host this exhibition, an important distinction that will raise the museum’s profile. The museum also is the sole venue West Coast venue selected to participate; as a result, the museum will be featured in all ASMA’s national advertising and marketing materials throughout the year.

CAM will also host its 20th Annual Maritime Artists’ Exhibit this summer. The regional show will include work by local, regional and national artists specializing in maritime art. Both exhibitions are expected to attract upward of 2,000 visitors, many from out of town. In the past, the ASMA has been a sponsor of the CAM Maritime Artists’ Exhibit, leading to greater national exposure for several Oregon artists as well as for the museum itself.

Tourism brings money to the coastal economy, and museum officials expect the exhibit will be big for Coos Bay. “We know that when a dollar is spent here it travels around (the community). When visitors come here, they eat, sleep, they visit the beaches, and other museums,” said CAM Financial Manager Deryl Beebe.

CAM also received Cultural Trust grants in 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2011 for various projects, among them improvements to the Claire Wehrle Community Gallery, which will host a photo exhibit of the Coos Bay Longshoremen, sponsored by the Boat Builder’s Association of Coos Bay, during the ASMA exhibit. The Cultural Trust’s FY2011 grant to CAM supported the installation of a hanging system for schoolchildren’s and local art, creating a gathering space for locals as well as visitors.

Beebe said CAM is honored to have received these Cultural Trust grants. “(It means) the Cultural Trust has faith in us, that they know this will help keep the museum alive.”