Metal artist Dennis Cant has had a booth at Sorticulture since the first event in 1997. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Metal artist Dennis Cant has had a booth at Sorticulture since the first event in 1997. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Everett’s Sorticulture returns, and ‘granddad’ will be there

Metal artist Dennis Cant has been at every festival since its founding. The event moves to downtown Everett this year only.

Dennis Cant is only 53, but many think of him as the granddad of Sorticulture.

Cant, an Everett metal artist who specializes in garden art, has had a booth at Everett’s annual garden art festival since its founding in 1997. He’s enjoyed watching Sorticulture bloom over the years. The three-day event has drawn upwards of 15,000 to Legion Memorial Park for art, flowers, music and gardening gear.

Sorticulture was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic. A move to downtown Everett from Legion Memorial Park, following COVID-19 rules and regulations, allows for a safer event this year.

Eighty art and garden booths will line Colby Avenue between Hewitt and Everett avenues this year only, with a cap at 2,000 visitors on festival grounds at one time.

“Downtown Everett has so much parking,” said Tyler Chism, who organized this year’s Sorticulture. “Just remember that Cruizin’ to Colby happens in Everett, and that draws out more than 20,000 people, and everyone finds a place to park.”

Chism said the festival won’t require shuttles buses, whereas Legion Park has limited parking. And with no beer and wine garden or food trucks this year, Sorticulture will bring an economic boost to downtown restaurants and bars, he said.

This is Chism’s first time organizing Sorticulture. He admits he has some large gardening boots to fill, but he’s excited by the challenge.

“When we’re back at Legion, I’ll find ways to continue to make it relevant for folks who maybe don’t own homes or have gardens,” he said.

Cant said he’s excited to be back at Sorticulture because it’s his favorite festival.

Cant has had no training — unless you count metal shop and wood shop at Evergreen Middle School and Everett High School.

He founded Dennis Cant Metal Art 21 years ago. He works in his studio in Bothell.

Cant works in metal, rock and driftwood to make one-of-a-kind art. He offers handmade gates, fountains, tables, sculptures, hanging and kinetic art, bird baths and more.

“I hand-draw and hand-cut virtually everything I do,” he said. “I have some machine assist, but ultimately I create and design everything. I hand-form it, hand-bend it, hand-shape it.”

His art is inspired by Mother Nature — and living in the Northwest, he never runs out of inspiration. Several of his works, for example, are made to look like a heron, salmon and ferns.

Because Cant’s metal art is all handmade, no two pieces are the same.

“Metal has a mind of its own,” he said. “I couldn’t make them the same, even if I wanted to. If I was offered $2 million to make two exactly the same, I couldn’t do it.”

His signature is “Lines of Life” — a series of sculptures that are 7 or 8 feet tall. He’s been told the twisted lines look like kelp or fire. He likes all the guesses.

“Art is open to interpretation, but I don’t see either,” he said. “The ‘Lines of Life’ are the twists, the turns, the highs, the lows. That what that piece is.”

Cant’s booth will be on the corner of Wetmore and California. If you’ve been to all 24 Sorticultures with him, stop by and let him know.

“Dennis is the original Sorticulture vendor,” Chism said. “He’s sort of the granddad of Sorticulture — all the other vendors know him and ask him for advice. He’s a very prolific metal artist. He works almost more than anyone I know. Seven days a week, 12 hours a day.”

Cant doesn’t remember too much about the inaugural garden and arts festival back in 1997. He said it was held in the Evergreen Arboretum & Gardens. There were about 45 art and garden booths — plus one hot dog cart.

“It’s blossomed and grown into what it is today,” he said. “It really is an amazing show.”

Sara Bruestle: 425-339-3046; sbruestle@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @sarabruestle.

If you go

The free Sorticulture Garden Arts Festival is on Colby Avenue between Hewitt and Everett avenues. The three-day event has numerous art and garden booths.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 11; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 12; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 13.

This year’s festival has three gated entrances: at Colby and Everett avenues, Colby and Hewitt avenues and California and Wetmore avenues. Capacity will be limited to 2,000 on festival grounds at one time.

Parking is free downtown. You can also park at Everpark Garage, 2825 Hoyt Ave., for free on Saturday and Sunday, or take Everett Transit buses.

Or ride your bicycle to the festival and let Sharing Wheels watch your bike, helmet and shoes for you. Drop your gear off at the corner of California and Wetmore avenues.

Everett Rowing Association will hold your purchases for you while you stroll the festival, or go get your vehicle to pick them up. Don’t forget to grab a pick-up pass. Suggested $5 donation.

Live music is scheduled all weekend at Wetmore Theatre Plaza, 1710 Wetmore Ave. Musicians will overlook the plaza from the Everett Performing Arts Center’s veranda stage. See the Sorticulture Sessions list for the performance schedule.

Gardening guru Ciscoe Morris is scheduled to speak from 1 to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Poster artist Anna Gallop will be signing posters at Planted at 2829 Wetmore Ave. from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.

The Snohomish County Master Gardeners and the Evergreen Arboretum & Gardens will have informational booths.

For more information, go to everettwa.gov/sorticulture.

Sorticulture Sessions at Wetmore Plaza

FRIDAY

10 a.m. Peter Ali — Native American

noon Marco de Carvalh — Brazilian

5:30 p.m. Moody Bear — indie

SATURDAY

10 a.m. Peter Ali — Native American

11:30 a.m. Alex Johnston — experimental

1 p.m. Cisco Morris — Seattle’s gardening guru

3 p.m. The Porters — folk duo

4:30 p.m. Tomo Nakayama — folk rock pop

SUNDAY

10 a.m. Peter Ali — Native American

noon Sylvi — indie

2 p.m. Jr Geezer — folk rock

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