by Renee Patrick, Cascade A&E Editor
Bringing truly original fine art and craft to Central Oregon is Art in the High Desert’s (AHD) vision, and for the sixth year, the banks of the Deschutes River in the Old Mill District will be transformed into an art collector’s dream.
Ranking in at an impressive 14th best fine arts show in the nation by Greg Lawler’s Fine Art Fair Sourcebook, the locally-produced non-profit festival experienced the impact of its success in a record number of artist applications for the 2013 show.
“We knew right away that, even though our standards are very high, this pool of artists was going to make the jury process extremely difficult,” said Show Director Carla Fox. “The overall quality of the work is simply astounding.”
Applications poured in from 28 states and British Columbia, and in a two-day marathon session, this year’s four jurors had the daunting task of selecting just over 100 visual artists from the talented pool.
Each spring the AHD jurors review applications, looking specifically for artwork that goes beyond the expected, the usual, showing excellence in craftsmanship. The process is completely anonymous as each artist is assigned an ID number which is shown along with six images the artists submit, and a brief artist statement.
2013’s jury consisted of Yoshi Aoki, a mixed media sculptor from Seaside, Oregon; Dawn Emerson, a local artist and instructor in pastels and mixed media; Delene Montoya, a Bend furniture maker and designer; and Brian O’Neill, a graphic designer, ceramicist and instructor from Bellingham, Washington.
Scoring 14 different media categories, (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) the highest scoring applications are then invited to the festival. “We curate the show and create what we feel is a well-balanced collection of media,” said AHD Organizer Dave Fox.
As it turns out 2013 will be a banner year for Central Oregon artists, as nine have been juried in, more than ever before.
The festival is one of the few shows in the country that offers the artists detailed feedback from the jury room, and the service has been popular among past artists.
The 100+ artists invited this year come from 21 states and British Columbia. From Florida and Massachusetts to Kansas and Texas, many of the artists are nationally acclaimed, and with 64 new artists, festival attendees will have a wide array of new art to peruse.
A Sampling of Artists
Furniture maker Greg Klassen from Lynden, Washington recently participated in the Smithsonian Craft Show in Washington, D.C., “A great story in itself,” said AHD Board Member Cameron Kaseberg. “But the story took a huge turn when Martha Stewart requested a live interview with Greg on the show floor.”
Artist Amy Flynn from Raleigh, North Carolina creates sturdy, one-of-a-kind sculptures, never to be duplicated. They’re called Fobots, each is numbered and, just like the Tin Man, they each have their own heart inside.
Robert Anders from Baker City, Oregon makes original, one-off bowls and vessels in solid bronze, and was recently juried into the prestigious National Western Design Conference in Jackson Hole with pictures in a recent issue of American Craft magazine.
Louise Valentine and Brian Provencher from Gibsons, BC Canada, create unique fabric designs for scarves when they pinch, fold, gather, knot, tie or pleat the fabric tightly before it is ever immersed in different dye baths.
Artwork from each artist will be available for preview at www.artinthehighdesert.com in August prior to the show, and the festival’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/artinthehighdesert) provides a unique way to view and interact with many of the artists who will be appearing over the three-day weekend. The art will be for sale during the event at a range of prices with a goal of making the experience accessible to everyone.
In its third year, the popular artist home hosting program has created an opportunity for local residents to host out-of-town artists, an experience that helps to set Art in the High Desert apart from other festivals. Many hosts open their homes each year, and several have participated all three years. The artist/host paring has not only fostered friendships, but brings a fun and yet relaxing dimension to the life of a traveling artist as many are on the road for long periods of time.
Local couple Jan and Greg Gifford will host artist James Englehardt and his wife Lonnie for the third time. “They end up usually staying with us for a while, and not only come the Wednesday before, but stay Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday because they do Art in the Pearl in Portland [the next weekend.] Last year we took them kayaking, and we’ve even been invited to stay with them,” Jan said.
At the core of Art in the High Desert’s success, the welcoming community, helpful volunteers and hardworking festival organizers have helped to make Central Oregon one of the highlights among art festivals. The popularity of the event brings artists, patrons and art lovers from all over the region to experience the picturesque setting, accessible prices and unique stories about the artists and their work.
Come to the show, meet friends, visit with the artists and find that perfect piece of fine art or craft to add something amazing to your home, office or self.