by RENEE PATRICK Cascade A&E Editor
The grassy banks of the Deschutes River in the Old Mill District come alive the last weekend of August every year for one of the premier fine art shows in the country: Art in the High Desert (AHD). Recently ranked among the top 15 shows in the nation, AHD’s vision is simple: to bring truly original fine art and craft to Central Oregon.
“These artists bring with them a wealth of stories and accolades as well as amazing art,” commented Show Director Carla Fox. Of the over 100 hand-picked visual artists coming to Bend from 19 states and British Columbia for the weekend, over half will be attending for the first time.
The variety and quality of art are an important part of what makes this show so special, along with the leadership of AHD founders and local artists Dave and Carla Fox. Art in the High Desert and the Foxes were recently featured on Oregon Art Beat, the Public Broadcasting’s regional art program. An artist-run show is a fairly unique situation, and as show artists themselves, the couple are able to bring an appreciated level of expertise to the event.
“The show is run by artists that are familiar with doing good art festivals,” commented Marla Baggetta, a four-year Art in the High Desert artist and Cascade A&E cover artist. “It makes all the difference. The artists are really honored guests and treated very well.”
The artists invited to the August 22-24 show are chosen from one of 14 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.
by RENEE PATRICK Cascade A&E Editor
The playful and exploratory nature of Shelli Walters’ artwork manifests in dramatic colors; the layers of collage build to reveal vibrant images of beauty that are strong graphical works, a nod to her 20 years as a successful graphic designer.
“A painting is basically just a design,” Walters explained. “I think it makes me a better painter and designer to [create both] in tandem.”
Walters has painted her whole life. She was born in Montana, but early in life moved to Seaside, Oregon and then Bend. When it came time for college, she teetered on the decision of art school, but ultimately choose to pursue graphic design at Linn-Benton Community College as it provided more stability in a career. “I thought that I could always paint on the side,” she explained. “I love designing, and love doing it, it’s been a really fun and rewarding career.”
She has worked at local firm DVA Advertising and Public Relations for most of her career, but when she turned 40 the realization hit that time was flying by and she hadn’t devoted much spare time to her painting. “Turning 40 really motivated me to get back into it. It has been five years now, and I’m still working hard to get my skills back.”
Walters likes to explore other artistic disciplines: fused glass, sculpture and jewelry are all interests of hers, but found that making jewelry was hard on her hands. “It became really quite painful, and knew I couldn’t sustain it. Everything directed me back into painting.
“One of my favorite sayings about painting is you have to create a lot of really bad paintings to get a good one. You want things to go a certain way and you have to work through it and let go, then you are that much closer to the one you want.”
Walters began her journey back into painting with the help of classes and workshops; one of her most inspiring sessions was with painter Robert Burridge through the Art in the Mountains workshop series. “He has been really influential, I’ve taken three of his workshops now,” she said. “He is inspiring, at 70 years old he is this fireball and incredibly fun and energetic, and real and nurturing. I learned so much from him, he has a similar background as an industrial designer until he [started painting when he] hit 40; I feel a connection to him…It was a process to get back, but it’s been extremely joyful and rewarding.”