As summer starts to settle over Central Oregon, we are reminded of warm weather, the beautiful outdoors and all of the summer traditions we have come to know and love. With August around the corner, the Old Mill District will soon come alive with arts in Bend, Oregon and one of the most revered summer traditions Central Oregon has known: Art in the High Desert (AHD).
Currently ranked 12 in the top 25 art shows in the nation by Art Fair Sourcebook, AHD brings over 110 nationally acclaimed, visual artists to the banks of the Deschutes River to create a unique show experience for both the artists and the public.
AHD has been presenting art lovers and collectors with an impeccably juried fine art and craft show for eight years. Led by founders and local artists Dave and Carla Fox, AHD seeks to provide a show experience that professional artists cannot find anywhere else. The primary goal is to reduce the barrier between the artist and the public and create an intimate show space where impeccable artworks are displayed and sold.
“This kind of show is reachable, and it’s a good business opportunity for artists to take this kind of approach beyond galleries,” says director Dave Fox. “They have three days to interact on an intimate level. We tell them to just go for it!”
AHD benefits artists by helping them engage directly with the public, and the public can then learn about how inspirations are developed, why the artists do what they do and what goes into creating a fine piece of artwork.
Variety is a key component to this outstanding show. The artists are chosen from 14 different media categories including: 2-D mixed media, metal work, painting, 3-D mixed media, photography, sculpture, ceramics, print making, digital art, drawing, wearables, fiber non-wearables, glass, wood and jewelry. With a few artists selected to represent each, this year’s show will not disappoint in variety. From pencil drawings, to faux-bots and cast metal bowls, AHD has broad range of dynamic artwork that appeals to an array of art lovers.
The work that goes into selecting artists to show at AHD is crucial to the show’s success, and the process is incredibly selective. Over 618 artists applied this year from 38 states and only a little over 100 get the opportunity. The completely anonymous application process includes six images of the artist’s best work and a brief artist statement. There is a new jury every year who selects candidates for the upcoming show during a two-day intensive process, and there are no guarantees for artists who have shown at AHD in the past. 60 percent of the artists at AHD this year weren’t a part of the show last year.
Although there have been offers for a bigger show and more booths each year, Dave comments that the small venue and selective process is a part of what makes AHD special and unique from other shows and exhibitions around the country. Intimacy is key, and it thrives best within a small, select group of artists.
When it comes to criteria, applying seems simple: original thought and intent, going beyond the norm and consistency of style and presentation. Jurors look specifically for artists who are not only experts within their craft, but also push themselves beyond the usual or expected. One of the most appealing traits of an AHD artist is their ability to step up to these challenges and produce work that is ground-breaking and one of a kind. This process allows not only a variety of work, but work that is truly exceptional and unique.
Another key to AHD’s success is the volunteers who put in the time and effort to make an outstanding show. Volunteers apply online in order to get involved and directly connect to the artists and their work.
Applying online is simple, and worth it! Volunteers can be hosts for artists travelling to the event, by providing accommodations. AHD Home Hosting Program is designed to help visiting artists with lodging, connect with the community, other artists and the show itself. More hosts are always needed. Interested volunteers can learn more about volunteer opportunities on the AHD website.
In addition to offering art lovers a chance to peruse and purchase the skilled work of master artists , Art in the High Desert places a strong emphasis on recognizing the work of artists in more unexpected ways. In their Art Makes a Difference campaign, the organizers aim to bring awareness to how art impacts our everyday activities and the products we use. Included are the fantastically intricate and beautiful pieces of clothing, furniture and toys found at the show, but the campaign also crosses into out everyday experiences at work, home or play.