by RENEE PATRICK Cascade A&E Editor
Dorothey Eberhardt has had a long and varied career as a professional artist and her current journey into landscape photography truly captures not only the majestic beauty of Central Oregon’s wild places, but a sense of the magic that can be found in nature.
Art has always played a pivotal role in Eberhardt’s life. After getting her art education degree at the University of Oregon, she taught junior high art in the Medford area for a few years; the best part of teaching on that level, she explained, was covering a wide variety of mediums. “I have changed my mediums [many times], and I like to investigate new things,” she explained.
“I’m always growing and I’m always changing,” she commented, “because I can’t do the same thing for 40 years, to me that would get boring.”
Eberhardt opened the first art gallery in Ashland, Oregon after she finished teaching in Medford, and when her husband, David, who was heavily involved in the ski industry, came to work at Mt. Bachelor in the early ‘70s, the couple transition to life in the high desert.
Soon after moving to Bend, they began a 35-year journey in the national art-show circuit. In a collaborative process, David, an accomplished woodworker and designer, and Dorothy, at the time working in copper and enamel, created functional pieces like lamps, and napkin and earring holders. “Doing the art shows influenced me more than anything else,” Eberhardt commented. “When you are traveling all over the country, you can see what everyone else is doing and get a lot of new influences and meet a lot of interesting people.”
by RENEE PATRICK Cascade A&E Editor
Natasha Bacca’s artistic process is unique. And by unique, we mean one-of-a-kind. The local professor and artist has captured light and color using an innovative process that has garnered national and international attention. Through pushing the boundaries of the traditional photographic process, her patented technique explores the world in vibrant hues, shades and silhouettes.
Bacca has always been an artist. “Early on I was interested in anything I could get my hands on,” she explained, “ceramics, drawing, painting, photography…everything!” In high school after she had taken all the art classes offered, she looked to the local college, Modesto Junior College, for her next creative outlet.
Once at the University of Oregon for her bachelors degree, Bacca continued her exploration into different art forms, but found a powerful draw to photography. “During the time I was pursuing my photography-based art degree I witnessed meteoric changes within the photographic world. The once commanding darkroom was being replaced by the newest computer lab, while prosperous photography businesses were closing their doors forever,” she explained. “I both embraced and questioned the digital world photography was being assimilated into. I delved further into the basic concepts of photography; where it came from, what it meant and where it was going.”
Her exploration into the discipline, and even root meaning of the word “photography” (photo meaning light, graph meaning to write) brought Bacca’s attention to a very literal translation: writing with light.
“Following extensive research, I developed various methods of painting with light on photosensitive paper and designed different tools for this purpose,” she said. What followed became an unexpected journey into the world of patents. Bacca knew her process was unlike anything else out there, so kept her exploration a secret. The impetus for a patent came when her husband suggested attending a meeting with the Central Oregon Inventors Guild.
“I started going to meetings for fun,” she explained. “Artists and inventors have a very similar creative process, and they were talking a lot about patents. It wasn’t something I had ever thought about before.”
Initially she thought it seemed like too big of a process. A lawyer would have to be hired to write the documents, and she wouldn’t be selling a product like most pursuing a patent. “The more I hung out at the meetings and heard about patents though, the more I thought I could do it. On a whim I picked up some patent books at the library, and decided to author it myself instead of hiring a lawyer,” she said.
Bacca began researching the process in 2006, applied in 2008 and was awarded the patent in 2011. “An interesting thing happens when you compare the patent process to college; when you go to college you take all of these classes and are guaranteed a degree, but with a patent you go through all these steps and it’s just a gamble, it’s a waiting game, a three year waiting game,” she said. “What the patent does for me is set me aside from other artists, which was especially valuable in the beginning.”
Bacca’s work has explored abstracts, nature, wine and even potato heads, but it’s her passion for health and healing that directs most of her attention. Many of the pieces that hang in hospitals or healing environments are from her nature series; a body of work that explores flowers and trees through color and light.
“I really enjoy working with healthcare, and I like combining that with my art,” she explained. “I love all of the little details of a flower or leaf, a tree or a branch, they are always different.”
Layering and colors are essential to her compositions as well. “I don’t do subtle,” Bacca said in reference to the brilliant hues she works with. “Some people prefer a more muted pallet, but that’s not my work; bright and colorful is a primary element of my work.”
In addition to pioneering her technique of painting with light, Bacca is a professor of photography at Central Oregon Community College. Her education pursuits began at Modesto where she studied early childhood education along with art. “I taught infants, toddlers, preschoolers and elementary school children,” she said, “so I always had a balance [of art and education.]” Then she went on to get her masters degree in education at Eastern Oregon University, a path that led her to teach at the high school and college level.
“I love working in the dark room and showing students the history and the roots of photography; a lot of students are not familiar with that because they were born into a digital world,” she said.
Bacca teaches part time and works as an artist full time, a combination that many artists are familiar with. “The work just doesn’t stop,” she said. “But constantly learning is important. Not every avenue you try works out, and that’s ok. It’s challenging but exciting.”
And the learning hasn’t just been focused on her artistic pursuits. “The business side of being an artist is not taught at art school,” she commented. “I’m still learning as I go; there isn’t a right way or wrong way, but people are surprised to learn that less than 50 percent of my time is spent creating art.”
Sales, marketing, travel and more all make up a significant part of a professional artist’s life. “There are a lot of ways to sell art, and that’s something I didn’t realize in the beginning, and I’m still exploring!” she exclaimed.
Bacca’s cover artwork Jubelale 2010, was featured on the Deschutes Brewery label for their seasonal brew, Jubelale, four years ago and her work has been featured on OPB’s series Oregon Art Beat, in addition to being collected at institutions like NASA, Hilton Hotels, Kaiser Permanente, Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, Lane Community College and in many private collections.
“People know that it’s a different process when they see the work,” she said. “They say they’ve never seen anything like it before.”