Signature Artist Brings Focus Back to Children
by RENEE PATRICK Cascade A&E Editor
Pastel artist Dawn Emerson has been chosen as the Deschutes Children’s Foundation’s (DCF) 2012 Signiture Artist for the second time. As the first artist for the Art and Wine Auction in 2000, the Foundation knew Emerson would capture the spirt of childhood with her distinct use of color and movement, creating a central art piece to bring the focus of the event back to children.
Foundation Executive Director, Kim McNamer, explained, “Emerson’s first painting as the Signature Artist was of two children sitting on a beach. Over the years we have moved towards a wine theme for our signature art, but knew it was time to put the focus back on what this event is all about – children and families.”
Emerson’s style has changed since Toes in the Water, the first vivid pastel she created for DCF; the current piece, A Circle of Joy, came into being when she reflected on Margarette Puckette’s Ring Around the Rosie sculpture in front of the Foundation’s Rosie Bareis Campus. “I thought the Ring Around the Rosie idea would be more of a graphic image,” Emerson said. Lending itself to reproduction in a variety of formats, she believes A Circle of Joy will have a broader appeal for the Foundation.
“When children have that sparkel in their eye, there is nothing more amazing than that pure joy and that innocence,” said Emerson of her painting. “You don’t see kids playing like that much anymore, holding hands and enjoying being in the moment for me is worth persevering.”
“The community response to Circle of Joy has been out of this world,” McNamer said. “Dawn created a painting that we are proud to represent Deschutes Children’s Foundation. The lucky winner of this painting will have a work of art that will be a treasure for many years to come.
“I am just moved that, after 20 years, the Central Oregon art community continues to provide this outpouring of support. The artwork gets stronger every year, but it’s going to be hard to rival Dawn’s painting in future years of the Art & Wine Auction. We could not have dreamed of receiving a better painting to represent the 20th Art & Wine Auction.”
The Art of Movement
Orginally from the east coast with a career in graphic design and book publishing, Emerson’s imagination and artistic endeavors expanded expontentially as she moved further west. “When we moved I started fresh, teaching art as an artist in education and making painted wooden sculpture while my husband and I raised our two young children,” Emerson said. “I was amazed by the rivers and mountains, the herds of wild horses, the dry desert colors, the daily rhythm of farm life and the magical quality of raven talk and coyote singing. I sketched with calligraphy pen and ink whenever I could simply to understand the scale of the landscape that was so different from what I’d known.”
After the family’s move to Central Oregon in 1991, she began to study pastel portraiture with artists Harley Brown and Albert Handell. “Pastel felt familiar to me the first time I tried it. It is a humble, yet powerfully expressive medium. Direct and immediate, it requires no preparation or drying, which suits my rather impulsive and impatient nature,” Emerson explained.
Through painting horses, people and landscapes, she was able to connect with the new landscape. “Painting helps me feel at home in my own skin, to know myself, and my own purpose. I think I have always done this.”
Emerson spends much of her time as a traveling workshop artist. From pastel classes to drawing workshops, her time serving on national jury panels for art shows and as a member of the Pastel Society of America has opened the door to many opportunities around the country.
Despite taking on the roll of teacher, she likes to view the world as a student. By tapping into the beginners mind, she believes one can always see something new. “I try to enjoy what I am doing every day in the studio, to encourage people to enjoy [creating art] and not to think of themselves as having to sell [to be happy]. Too many people look at money as summing up success.”
Emerson’s work is getting more abstract with time. Drawn to movement and dance, she literally dances when she creates; the energy and color realeased through motion help to capture her subject’s spirit on canvas, even though she doesn’t always know what the end result will be until she is finished.
“I put on some loud music, dance around and start playing. It is a discovery process along the way,” she said. Attracted to the deep rumbling didgeridoo, the sounds seem to unleash bazarr things, almost like dreaming. “I like powerful music, dramatic songs that are musically full of pictures. My pastels are kind of like the notes…”
Emerson’s work can be found at Mockingbird Gallery and Atelier 6000. Atelier 6000 offers her a space for experimenting with printmaking and monoprinting with pastels. She also shows work at the Two Rivers Gallery in Big Timber, Montana.
Deschutes Children’s Foundation Serving Community
This year’s Art and Wine Auction will be held on May 5 at the Riverhouse Convention Center in Bend. The live auction will feature works of art, limited release wine and a variety of vacation opportunities. All items are donated by local artists, wine collectors and community sponsors. Entertainment will be provided by Todd Haaby and Solo Via.
Since 1990, the Deschutes Children’s Foundaton (DCF) has provided rent-free space on collaborate campuses to other nonprofits that serve children and families in Deschutes County. DCF now has four of these campuses throughout Bend, La Pine and Redmond which served over 76,000 visits in 2011, an 18 percent increase over 2010.
The savings attributed to the 27 human service programs housed on the various campuses add up to an estimated $800,000 savings annually. Shared expenses and free rent help to create an environment which runs effective, efficient and child-friendly facilities.
The Foundation states, “We believe children and families are society’s building blocks, a comfortable and respectful environment fosters good results, communication and collaboration product good outcomes, and our community deserves accountability and efficient use of its resources.”
Tickets for the 20th Annual Art & Wine Auction are $100 each or $175 for couples.
Purchase tickets in advance by visiting www.deschuteschildrensfoundation.org or 541-388-3101.