Scott Emmerich has spent his adult life keeping alive the age-old tradition of custom handmade boot making. It’s almost a lost art and one only a handful of boot craftsmen worldwide today.
“I have in-house, six of the best master boot makers in the world and four who are older and pickup work and take it home,” Emmerich says with a chuckle. Emmerich then sighs and adds, “My master boot makers range in age from 57 to 86. When we’re gone, we’re gone. There’s no boot makers like us anymore.”
Emmerich owns and operates The Tres Outlaws Boot Company in El Paso, Texas. From tanning their own leather to the finishing polish, Emmerich and his team create custom western boots that are not only molded to fit a customer’s foot perfectly, but every stitch and detail are meticulously and completely done by hand.
Emmerich proudly says, “I like the artistic side of me that can create boots that have never been done before. You have to engineer them because my boots are art that can also be worn.”
This fall, Central Oregonians will get a rare treat and opportunity to meet Emmerich and see some of Tres Outlaws’ prize boots at a special one-day event on Saturday, November 8 at Desperado Boutique in the Old Mill District.
Joanne Sunnarborg has been a fan of Emmerich and his boots since she opened her store 18 years ago. “I have a collection of Tres Outlaws Boots and just when I tell myself I have enough, we do a show and I discover a pair I just have to add to my collection,” says Sunnarborg. As proprietor of Desperado Boutique, Sunnarborg says,“Bringing Emmerich to the store gives people a chance to learn about boot making and the opportunity to create their own pair of wearable art.”
Tres Outlaws Boots start at about $500 and have gone as high as $50,000. The ultra expensive boots include details like exotic leathers, 18 karat gold and precious stones. A simple pair of Tres Outlaws Boots has 210 steps and takes 40 hours to make. The company makes about 10 pairs a week and depending on difficulty customers can expect to wait anywhere from four weeks to a year to get a pair made. Emmerich says, “I am very detail oriented. There are no short cuts when you’re getting the best of the best. My customers know the cost and wait are worth it.”
So when asked in our recent phone interview why people should come see his boots when he visits Bend, Emmerich again says with a long laugh, “All you need to bring are your ideas and your feet. I’ve designed 40,000 boots over the last 32 years and my favorite ones are the ones still in my head.”
Scott Emmerich of Tres Outlaws Boot Company will be at Desperado Boutique in the Old Mill District on Saturday, November 8 from 12-8pm. 330 SW Powerhouse Dr., Ste. 120, Bend.
The Arts & Culture Alliance of Central Oregon (ACA) is partnering with the Oregon Arts Commission to produce the first Central Oregon Arts Summit on Monday, October 6 at the Riverhouse Convention Center in Bend.
This marks the first regional arts summit organized by the Arts Commission, which fosters an environment for artists, administrators and community members to come together for provocative learning exchanges that spark new insights and connections to their work. The Commission has previously hosted annual statewide art summits in Portland.
“Feedback from our statewide arts summits held in Portland revealed there was an opportunity to better address specific regional needs by presenting smaller, geographically focused summits,” said David Huff, the Commission’s assistant director. “We chose to begin a new model with Central Oregon due to its commitment to cultural tourism and diverse array of arts organizations and partnerships.”
The 2014 regional summit, Exploring Connections, will highlight the state of the arts in Central Oregon, with breakout sessions on public value of the arts, art in health care, cultural tourism, Oregon’s art ecology, creative place making and art in business. The summit is open to individual artists, arts supporters, arts-related businesses and volunteers, as well as staff and board members of nonprofit organizations.
The Summit’s keynote speaker, Doug Borwick, is the author of Building Communities, Not Audiences: The Future of the Arts in the U.S. Borwick will discuss the idea that arts organizations need to become deeply connected with their communities and will provide new ways of looking at the arts as a powerful force for building better communities and improving the lives of all.
Following the Central Oregon Arts Summit, attendees are invited to a free reception at the Deschutes Public Library from 5-6:30pm where they can enjoy a local craft brew, meet funders, visit with other nonprofit leaders and artists and learn more about the Foundation Center’s grant information network.
The Oregon Arts Commission, housed in Business Oregon, was established in 1967 to foster the arts in Oregon and ensure their excellence. Recognizing the impact the arts have on Central Oregon and the economy, the Arts & Culture Alliance was formed in May 2010. The ACA understands the need for collaboration and networking; their shared purpose in working together to promote the arts and supporting each other establishes a collective voice.
The partnership with the Arts Commission celebrates the ACA’s recent nonprofit status, which will enable the ACA to pursue additional collaborations to better meet its mission to promote Central Oregon as a cultural destination and to promote and strengthen collaboration within the art and culture community.
Central Oregon Arts Summit
Monday, October 6
8:30am-4pm at the Riverhouse Convention Center
$50 registration (includes box lunch), ($40 for ACA or NAO members.
Call Michelle Solley at 541-508-8785 for ACA membership information.)
Arts & Culture Alliance Members:
2nd Street Theater. Art in Public Places, Art in the High Desert, Arts, Beautification & Culture Commission, Arts Central, Atelier 6000, Bella Acappella Harmony, Bend Chamber of Commerce, Bend Dance Project, BendFilm, Caldera, Cascade Arts & Entertainment, Cascade Chorale, Cascades Theatrical Co., Central Oregon Mastersingers, Central Oregon Symphony Association, COCC Barber Library Rotunda Gallery, Des Chutes Historical Museum, Deschutes Public Library, High Desert Chamber Music, High Desert Journal, Les Schwab Amphitheater, Lubbesmeyer Studio, Mockingbird Gallery, Museum at Warm Springs, Redmond Community Concert Association, Roundhouse Foundation, Scalehouse, Sisters Folk Festival, Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, Sunriver Music Festival, Sunriver Stars Community Theater, Terpsichorean Dance Studio & Tower Theatre Foundation.
Membership is open to creative arts practitioners, nonprofits, businesses, artists, groups and organizations that focus on the arts.
by ALLISON DALEY, Cascade A&E Editorial Intern
Active. Artsy. Authentic. These words describe Bend’s community, but they also perfectly fit Bronwen Jewelry. This local business handcrafts feminine but sturdy jewelry, inspired by a life lived in motion. Bronwen pieces are versatile and can be worn anywhere: to the beach, yoga or a nice evening in town.
Bronwen Lodato, the owner and designer, has been making jewelry for as long as she can remember, describing herself as a “hobbyist-turned-professional.” Aside from serving as an assistant silversmith, Lodato is “almost exclusively self-trained...I learned everything by doing,” she said.
After living in several states in the Pacific Northwest, she decided Bend, Oregon was the right fit for her family and the business. With her husband of 14 years as her full-time business partner and about 10 other employees, Lodato works out of a beautiful studio in the heart of downtown. While some parts of the manufacturing process are outsourced to other local, talented craftsmen, all Bronwen pieces are handmade in Bend.
The concept of active jewelry came naturally to Lodato, initially coming into fruition as she led backcountry expeditions for Outward Bound in her 20s. “At basecamp I would be making jewelry as a hobby,” she said. Soon, other women were asking for pieces.
“You’re out there for a long time, you’re dirty and not feeling so pretty...but we needed jewelry that would hold up.”
This was when the important features of versatility and durability became ingrained into her jewelry designs. “Our pieces have a strong function component; sweat in it, shower in it, swim in it, leave it on...we have a lifetime warranty,” Lodato said.
From that point, Lodato continued to make and sell her pieces as a hobby. Over time, she recognized this niche in the jewelry business was going unfilled and that she could turn her passion into a serious business endeavor. Lodato launched her brand in 2008 at the Outdoor Retailer show, where she landed some of her biggest accounts including Athleta and Sundance Catalog. Today, Bronwen Jewelry is in hundreds of retail stores across the U.S. and she’s now selling internationally to stores in Japan.
Looking forward, Lodato’s goal is to remain small and profitable. “I want to always stay handcrafted in the States,” she commented. She also wants to position her brand as the industry leader in active, lifestyle jewelry. “The [active] category is growing huge...so we want to stake our claim. We’ve been doing this for a long time,” Lodato explained.
Lodato leads an active lifestyle herself, staying busy with her three-year-old daughter and enjoying the wonderful outdoors of Central Oregon. Her creativity is fueled by adventure, travel and color.
“Color is probably my biggest source of inspiration in life...if I’m traveling or sitting in my own house, color is imprinting on me,” she explained.
Lodato and her husband Michael have sailed all over the world, which has inspired her collections. “Travel has been a gigantic part of my life. I’m a total wanderlust.”
And after seeing many beautiful places, Lodato decided Bend was the right one to make home.
Signs are something we see every day, but we rarely think about the creative mind behind them. Barton Stubblefield is one such creative mind, and has been a professional in the sign and design industry for over 40 years. Recently moved from Madison, Wisconsin, he is transitioning from the signage business to selling his artwork. “I wanted to move to a different area that would expand my creativity,” Stubblefield said. After visiting Bend, he liked the climate, the people and the bustling art community.
At a young age, Stubblefield learned to use many hands-on tools while working with his father, a finish carpenter. “I was always interested in drawings, graphics...and larger signage,” he said. Leaving home at 13, he started lettering trucks and windows and painting signs in his small farming community. By 20, he was a master hand letterer and had started making electrical, metal and wood signs.
Stubblefield is primarily self-taught. He begins his projects with hand-drawn designs and continues through with the engineering and installation process. “You have to be able to design, engineer, sell...be a welder, an electrician; you have to do it all,” he explained. Stubblefield creates signs for offices, businesses and homes, and can work with almost any material: steel, aluminum, glass, reclaimed woods, gold leaf and others. Depending on the project, a piece can take anywhere from three hours to a week to complete, with some of his largest projects including the Memphis Redbirds scoreboard and a LED sign for the Atlanta Braves.
He continues to make signs, but is now focused on his artwork. In June, Stubblefield had his first showcase at Bend Furniture and Design. Owner, Heather Cashman, said, “Barton’s Word Project is what captivated us. Almost everyone has a word that resonates with them. Barton’s clever way of creating a dimensional piece using mixed mediums is a totally unique approach, like nothing we have seen before.”
Stubblefield primarily draws inspiration from the people he works with. “I mostly enjoy working with the client, because they help me create...they let me know what their purpose is behind the piece of art..and I can help them with that,” he said. Cashman commented, “His ability to connect with people allows his commissioned work to be completely personalized.”
by RENEE PATRICK Cascade A&E Editor
“For me the artist’s journey is an internal one. And the internal spaces are vast – and as every bit as full of mystery and unexplored territories as the outer universes. Art in all its forms are attempts to map or gain insight on this internal universe, something as critical for our species to understand as our impact on the outer world.” -Mytchell Mead
Contemporary Fine Artist Mytchell Mead has found becoming fully immersed in the present opens oneself up to the serendipitous nature of life, and thus, art. Through his varied past and internal journeys traveling the world in the tech-industry, studying non-western esoteric cosmologies and traveling the country by bike, Mead’s sculptural pieces not only build on his experiences, but reflect his open-hearted approach to life, to adventure and to learning.
Mead is the featured artist for August at Paul Scott Gallery in downtown Bend, and will be present at their First Friday ArtWalk reception on August 1.
His journey to becoming a skilled sculptor began at an early age as Mead worked and learned alongside his father, a talented metal worker. After getting his MBA, he worked for a high-tech firm and traveled all over the world. “Trips to Japan gave me an appreciation for Eastern thought and art. Europe instilled a classical regiment and South America brought out the desire to draw in earth and craft elements,” he said.
Following those experiences, Mead rode his bike cross country only to find himself laid off of his job upon his return. He spent the next five years interning with a yogi, meditating, learning Sanskrit chant and exploring ancient texts. “The content of study helped to assimilate the experiences from the bike trip, and the artwork seemed to come next of its own accord,” Mead explained.
Mead’s flow lead him to open a bike shop in Seattle in the mid 1990s, conveniently located next to an artist-owned foundry. He soon found himself working in metal and within a year it became an impromptu gallery for his work. However, a pivotal moment in his artistic career came when he and his future wife set off for a bike trip across the country in 1999.
“We got to New Mexico, in the middle of nowhere in Santa Fe National Forest, to see this incredible house on the border of the park. Some millionaire built an earth ship that had been vacant for three years.”
Mead climbed up to the house to find the owner there for the first time in years, and the gentleman offered the couple the opportunity to house-sit for the next two years. The beautiful earth ship just happened to be perched above the little house of Alberto Jose Castagna, Argentinean sculpture and artist.
“I got to know Alberto and spent several hours a day there over the next two years,” Mead explained. “In true classic form, Alberto first taught me to ‘see.’ He claimed that our eye is calibrated from birth for dimension, proportion, balance and relation by the human form.”
His experience learning under Castagna lead to Mead’s philosophy: when the artist’s eye and skills are honed, all effort becomes a clear channel for the flow of creativity.
“[I found] if you just step off the cliff and let yourself fall, you will be caught. It’s pouring that into the artwork day, by day, by day,” Mead explained, “that’s always what I need to do, I don’t need to look too far, or plan; what happens will happen at the right time.”
Since that time in New Mexico, Mead and his family moved to John Day, Oregon and he has been working primarily with sculptural forms of metal and wood. He gravitates towards abstract forms in his work, stating, “When you take something that is outside of words, or abstract…it takes you outside the thinking mind. It forces you into a place of growth.
“Many of my works explore the horizon line – very common in abstract art – but for me it’s about the merging of the two. Often there is a space at the joining point, where the ethereal meets the manifest, and for me this is a place to reside. It is here that we can draw from imagination to create in the manifest. It is the seat of creativity.”
Mead is represented by Paul Scott Gallery in Bend and a variety of other galleries around the west. “I was drawn to the natural and historic elements of wood he uses in his work, and how he transforms the color and texture of the steel,” said Paul Scott Gallery Director Kim Matthews.
Mead’s creativity leads him to constantly explore, and to relish everything about the process; recently he has started working with color and encaustics. “I’m always working to increase my curiosity and being an artist is nothing else if it’s about opening up that can of curiosity and letting it pour.”