Each year The Arts Center in Corvallis hosts the Howland Community Open Exhibition, giving professional and amateur artists alike a chance to share their art with the rest of the community.

And while the artwork displayed changes from year to year, the goal of the show has remained the same over three decades, says curator Hester Coucke.

"It's community involvement and to really show how much joy people are getting out of art making and having art in their lives," Coucke said.

The annual exhibition is on view at The Arts Center through March 14. A Brown Bag Arts Talk with featured artists discussing their works is today at noon.

The Howland exhibit is open to artists of all ages and skill levels from Benton and Linn County. Generally, around 200 pieces of artwork are submitted for display by gallery members, area artists and others. Typically, the gallery opens its doors on the weekend before the show opens and artists line up for a place on The Arts Center's walls. As long as space remains, there's room for another piece of art in the open.

Coucke said every medium is represented, including sculptural ceramics, oil and watercolor paintings, photography, printmaking and illustrations.

Participating artists range in age from 2- and 3-year-old kids to a 101-year-old artist.

"The community open is really just democratic. We're not looking if you're really good, or if it's just the scribbles of a beginner," Coucke said.

The Arts Center doesn't make any judgments on the artwork before it is displayed, "but then we turn around and we do awards," she said.

The exhibition committee selects awards and honorable mentions for five different groups. During the Feb. 15 Corvallis Arts Walk, the curator and the committee will advocate for their personal choices.

There are three age groups for younger artists that go up to age 19, young adults.

The winners from these three groups are awarded art supplies at Cyrano's, a Corvallis art supply store.

"The children's art always gets a lot of attention. Quite often people say it is the best," Coucke said.

"The adults are divided into professional and non-professional. They get the glory, which is really wonderful to have too," she said.

Viewers can vote for any of the artists for the People's Choice Award during the same Corvallis Arts Walk. Everyone gets up to three votes. The winner of the award will be announced during an awards reception Feb. 22.

There is one additional perk that comes with winning the People's Choice Award.

"We tend to use that image for the next year's postcard and poster," Coucke said.