by JEFF SPRY A&E Feature Writer
If variety is the spice of life, then artist Lori Salisbury’s alluring new gallery in Sisters is one flavorful dose of inspiring eye candy.
Occupying the downtown corner formerly home to Dan and Julia Rickards’ Clearwater Gallery, Salisbury has recently opened her doors to welcomed art lovers into a cornucopia of visual delights.
From her own Native-American themed landscapes and soothing pastoral settings, to the luscious glass sand dollars and sea creatures of Jeff and Heather Thompson, the Lori Salisbury Gallery is filled with a colorful array of local and regional art with a flair for discovering original creations in wood, glass and canvas.
Salisbury was originally born in Southern Idaho and moved to Colorado in 1985 where she owned a run of galleries in Estes Park, Boulder, Pagosa Springs and Loveland. She’s a self-taught artist, dexterous with a brush and palette for nearly 35 years, beginning her career depicting Native American compositions and moving on to wildlife studies.
“I was inspired by where I grew up and started from a young age,” she recalled. “I lived next to the Shoshone Indian Reservation and my grandmother, who had a cabin in the mountains, got me into painting so I was always right there in the forest. Sculpting is new for me these last 10 years, mostly in bronze and bonded bronze.”
Salisbury’s new gallery is a kind of soothing cocktail of art, with some consignment artists and others strictly on a co-op basis.
“I like to have diversity here so I brought in some whimsical glass sculptures, Raku pottery by Tina Brockway, the spiritual gourd art of Susan Harkness-Williams, contemporary paintings from Dorota Nowak, burlwood furniture and cool vintage pieces reborn through creative hands.”
The glassblowing team of Jeff and Heather Thompson produce some amazing, whimsical pieces, with glass totem poles, sea turtles, crabs, decorative vases and fat frogs dozing on oversized lily pads gleaming from the front shelf and perimeter walls.
“I think he’s one of the best glass artists I’ve ever seen, it’s natural and very colorful and eyecatching. I’m so glad to have him here.”
Also exhibiting in the gallery is Roxanne McKay, a good friend of Salisbury who helped paint the Nazca Lines mural inside Hola! restaurant in Bend. McKay specializes in taking old furniture and turning it into something fun and creative, yesterday’s yard sale trash becoming heirloom treasures.
Salisbury is also bringing in bronze artist Heather Soderberg out of Cascade Locks on the Oregon Coast.
“She sculpts nature and people and has been doing art since she was two years old,” said Salisbury. “Heather does some amazing work and we’re proud to be including her in our roster of artists.
“My own art has always had a message behind it, a love and respect for the Earth and preserving nature for future generations. One of my favorite quotes by Chief Joseph is that we do not inherit the Earth, we borrow it from our children.”
Salisbury admits being essentially nomadic her whole life.
“Many of my paintings come from my grand adventures and roaming,” she said. “Ten years ago I bought a pop-up camper that sits on the back of my truck and traveled around the West, painting and exploring. I kept hearing about Bend and researched it a little, then packed up the truck and came here a year and a half ago.”
In a fortuitous move, Salisbury had been looking at Sisters as a gallery destination since she first relocated to Central Oregon.
“I like the vibe here and believe it goes well with my work. It feels like home. I came into Clearwater Gallery last summer right before they moved out. I knew it had been an established gallery and had high visibility. When I came back this winter I saw it was empty and I moved on it fast.
“I wanted this gallery to be a place for my art as well as a collection of artists I love and admire that would compliment my style and offer clients a rich array of artistic choices,” she said.
Her work can be best described as visionary, not only in style and composition, but in its potent emotional effect, drawing peace and inspiration from nature and the unseen world.
“This is going to be a working studio gallery too, with events and workshops all summer long with guest artists painting and sculpting. There’s a barn in the back and I hope to rent that out and turn it into a classroom and an extension of the gallery.”
This is Salisbury’s first gallery with such an eclectic mix of artwork generating a palpable synergy to locals and tourists.
“I’m really excited to be here in Sisters and look forward to becoming a vibrant part of the local art scene and giving back to this great community.”
A grand opening celebration is planned for the Lori Salisbury Gallery on Friday, June 21 from 4-8 p.m. They’re located at 391 West Cascade Ave. in downtown Sisters. For more info visit her at www.lorisalisburygallery.com or call 541-508-8884.