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Alpenhimmel Artistic Wonders

Read more: Alpenhimmel Artistic Wondersby JEFF SPRY Cascade A&E Feature Writer


Alpenhimmel Creative Arts Emporium is a new rainbow of artistic wonders just opened this summer in downtown Sisters. Located in a modern timber-framed building reminiscent of Swiss lodges, this one-stop art shopping destination is evoking a surge of creativity from locals and visitors alike.

Owners Charity and John Alva started this European style arts center with the hopes it would become a beacon of expression for the entire community and so far their dream has succeeded.

“The name Alpenhimmel means “Alpine Heaven” and comes from our time spent living in Bavaria for over 25 years,” said Charity. “We have an arts and crafts supply store and public open studio space for a variety of creative disciplines, from papercrafting for people who want to make custom cards and scrapbooks, to basketweaving, bookbinding, mixed media, hand-lettering, polymer clays, acrylic painting, calligraphy and markers for cartooning and illustration.”

The well-stocked retail portion of Alpenhimmel deals in the finest European and Asian art supplies available: premium papers from Italy, glitters from Holland, Japanese watercolors, E&M dip pens from Germany. Their international roster of art supplies come in all quantities, sizes and price ranges.

“It’s unlike any job I’ve ever had because I look forward to coming here every day. I can’t wait to get here each morning.

“We’d been acquainted with this type of multi-craft center in Germany, where they’re very popular with the Americans, a place where people can come in and use our available open studio areas and space. One thing we realized coming to Sisters is that there was opportunity for fiber artists to have a place to congregate, find their supplies and work on their projects but there wasn’t really a place for other types of artists and crafters to paint, to draw, to simply create.”

The Alvas have a full calendar of intriguing classes and workshops and they always include all supplies necessary.

“There’ll be a new selection of classes every month, based on availability of local instructors and suggestions from customers. We just had Jean Stark, one of our local renowned basket artists, do a workshop last week on beginning pine needle basketry. We’ve done a Souvenir Photo Accordion class before and it was really popular so we’ll do it again. We’ll be doing a workshop on designing and hand-carving rubber stamps, a bookbinding course and hand-tinting photographs as well.”

Depending on open studio time, customers pay a $3 an hour fee that allows them to set up at a table, use any supplies and equipment in the room. If they’re wanting to make cards, they need to bring their own card stock or buy it from their retail shop stocked with a colorful supply of professional fine art paints, both acrylics and watercolor, Inka Gold metallic paint, Pitt artist pens, Montana acrylic markers, stamp ink, oil pastels, journal paper and pads, high-end drawing and sketching pencils, Japanese illustration pens, tools and brushes, modeling clay and deluxe solid and patterned card stock.

392 West Main Avenue #3, Sisters, Open Wednesday-Saturday 12-6pm
www.alpenhimmel.com, 541-588-0931

Bald Eagle Music Education Station

by JEFF SPRY Cascade A&E Feature Writer


Remember those quaint music shops where you could peruse guitar picks, sheet music and clarinet reeds while teachers instructed eager kids plunking on an old upright piano?

Well, Bald Eagle Music Education Station in downtown Sisters is that refreshing retro throwback to independent music stores of the ‘70s and ‘80s, offering private lessons, instrument sales and an impressive array of new and used musical accessories.

Owner and artistic director Rebecca French places great emphasis on innovative music instruction in a relaxed, creative environment. For weekly private instrument lessons, Bald Eagle provides classes in piano, guitar, ukulele, brass, trumpet, flute and drums, serving students of all levels and abilities, including exploration into various styles of composition and music theory at the rate of $35 per hour or $20 per half-hour.

“I opened this studio back in 2010 after I’d lost my job of 20 years and basically saw the need in our town for a place where someone could come and buy guitar strings and sheet music, and because I needed a job,” French joked. “My mother had recently passed away and before she moved on she told me to open my music studio and follow my dream.”

Bald Eagle is also home to TreeSpirit Instruments, selling fine-crafted, locally-made African tongue drums, cigar box electric guitars and previously-owned instruments. Expert piano tuning is another service recently offered and their free sheet music exchange includes heavy boxes of sheet music dating back to the 19th century for musicians and collectors to share, trade or locate rare and hard-to-find items.

“Our exchange library of sheet music is amazing and dates all the way back to the Civil War. Everything from gospel, boogie-woogie, all genres of classic from Baroque to modern and there’s new stuff coming in all the time.”

Partner Chris Patrick joined Bald Eagle Music in 2013 in the position of teacher, mentor and composer, instructing clients in flute, trumpet, guitar and bass guitar. Patrick has performed as a professional musician for over 25 years, playing French horn in the Philharmonic Orchestra and delivering a full spectrum of tunes in popular house bands playing everything from jazz, gospel, classical and old time country. His latest passion has been learning to handle the Highland Bagpipes.

“This is such an incredible music community with a strong musical base,” he said. “Right now we have a vision for a brass choir with the core of it being an adult brass quintet. I’m very excited to have Trevor Craynor, the new school band instructor, in town. He plays tuba and is very enthusiastic in including students for this new community brass choir. Auditions will be later this month so check our site and Nugget News for dates.”

French attended the University of Oregon School of Music from 1977 to 1980 with a focus on piano performance, music education for handicapped children and music theory. She’s taught privately to more than 200 students for over 30 years with positions at the Cascade Community School of Music in Bend and the Sisters Parks and Recreation District as the music educator for pre-school kids and 7-12 age groups.

In 2008 she became music educator for Camp Sherman’s Black Butte School District where she shared her vivacious love of music and energetic personality.

Another innovative program is tailored to parents and their children for kids aged two-five and may be available individually or as a group. Activities include dancing, drumming, engaged listening, singing and simple piano studies. Group guitar lessons are led by Chris Patrick at the cost of $20 per hour.

“Music as a meditation device and healing factor with its vibrational elements is so important, but those are just the intangible benefits,” said Patrick. “The real goal is the total mastery of an instrument and the enjoyment of the performance. It’s the reason we do music education.”

Every year, students of Bald Eagle Music deliver a holiday recital, spring concert and several in-house musical events to spotlight their blooming talents and newly-learned abilities. They also participate in seasonal community events in Sisters such as the Sisters Act Talent Show, My Own Two Hands Parade, the Sisters Holiday Parade and Sisters Rodeo Parade.

“I’ve worked with so many children and the one constant is seeing the kids blossom with the joy of music,” said French.“Teachers are noticing improved behavior, attendance and higher academic scores after just a few months of lessons with us. We’re all about reaching for the sky and finding the stars.”

382 E. Hood Ave., Ste. #C East, Sisters, www.baldeaglemusic.com, 541-410-9064

Clearwater Gallery Features Dan Rickards’ Annual Print Give Away for 2014

Read more: Clearwater Gallery Features Dan Rickards’ Annual Print Give Away for 2014This year marks the 12th annual print giveaway, an event that has become an anticipated weekend for Clearwater Gallery and the Central Oregon community. Clearwater gallery owners Dan and Julia Rickards have carried out a Sisters Harvest Faire tradition of offering complimentary signed and numbered fine art prints that began as a Cascade Range series, displaying a variety of landscapes featuring our mountain ranges and well-known destinations around Central Oregon.

Last year Dan transitioned into his National Park collection, debuting his explorations with the breathtaking slice of Yosemite, Unfolding Light. This year’s continuation of the series will feature a glimpse of the highly acclaimed Redwood National Park, established in 1968.

When Dan and Julia ventured to the Redwoods this past July, the serenity and towering stature of the miles of ancient trees is an experience that Rickards seeks to capture in this year’s release. Rickards explains, “My mission is to represent the parks to the best of my ability. To paint realism in a way that is inspiring but yet highly representational of people’s own experiences; bringing them back to the moment when they were there.”

This year’s print giveaway will take place Saturday, October 11 at 10am. The Rickards will be at Clearwater Gallery signing the first 150 complimentary prints. Attend this annual event and learn more about the vision and passion behind the National Park collection.

The first 150 people will receive a complimentary fine art print. www.theclearwatergallery.com

Gordon & Kay Baker at Sisters Gallery

Read more: Gordon & Kay Baker at Sisters GalleryHusband and wife painters, Gordon and Kay Baker, will be featured at Sisters Gallery and Frame Gallery Shop for one month, opening on the Fourth Friday in September Art Stroll in Sisters. Oregon and More will feature landscape painting of Central Oregon as well as other areas they have visited.

Kay and Gordon moved to Bend in 1995 after Gordon’s retirement from a major oil company. He is a geologist, environmentalist and artist. Nature is the common denominator and painting brings it all together. “My oil paintings reflect who I am; a summation of a life-time of experiences.”

Kay has a bachelor of arts in advertising and art, and has taken classes from many well-known artists. She works in oil and pastel and is primarily a landscape painter. “I want the viewer of my paintings to sense the emotions I experience when I am painting.”
They are both members of the Oil Painters of America and the Plein Air Painters of Oregon as well as other professional organizations. Their paintings are in collections throughout the United States and Europe.

Sisters Gallery and Frame Shop, 252 West Hood Ave, Sisters. Opening Fourth Friday Art Stroll, September26, 4-7pm, 541-549-9552

Mother Earth Newest Sculpture Created for Downtown Sisters

Story by JEFF SPRY for Cascade A&E, see video by Joe Leonardi


Read more: Mother Earth Newest Sculpture Created for Downtown SistersIn a creative blizzard of white wood chips, master chainsaw sculptor and world-class artist Skip Armstrong conjured up the spirit of Mother Earth during the Oak Street Block Party in downtown Sisters on June 20. The medium was a canted, 12-foot pine tree trunk left over from a tree-trimming procedure last Spring between The Clearwater Gallery and Sisters Coffee Company.

Residents and visitors gathered to sample coffees and teas and watch the wizardry of Armstrong as he transformed the bare Ponderosa pine tree into a majestic embodiment of nature with chainsaws, Dremel tools and a wildly potent imagination.

Elegantly created in the style of old-fashioned sailing ship figureheads, the nude goddess gazes into the sky, adorned and enveloped in owls, wolves, cougars, otters and a butterfly.

“I call it She’s Cloaked in Wisdom as a nod to the wise owls,” said Armstrong, stopping his wood-shaving machines for a moment to regard his inspiring sculpture. “She’s a personification of Mother Earth as a sort of Gaia princess and the beautiful Earth Ship we’re living on.

“It’s also the wisdom born in nature and the wildness we need to preserve. I’m going to leave it chainsaw-rough and let it emerge from the tree. I may even toss in a fish or two to cover all the basic phyla of our Earth and all of its passengers.”

Armstrong spent over 16 hours manifesting the awe-inspiring statue as onlookers marveled at the detail and design of his impressive Mother Earth. The project was partially funded and supported by The Clearwater Gallery and Sisters Coffee Company. When completed, the pine sculpture was finished with multiple coats of a basic transparent oil to seal, protect and preserve the natural color.

“I wanted to bring us back to Nature a little bit, after being so inundated with technology and electronic gadgets,” he explained. “Leaning the way the tree was leaning, it worked out perfectly imagined as the bowsprit figurehead of an old sailing vessel. We’re all sailing on this same Earth Ship.”

See video by Joe Leonardi: http://www.cascadeae.com/regional-art/sisters/2510-cloaked-in-wisdom-and-wildness-


Master Chainsaw Artist J.Chester "Skip" Armstrong created a sculpture from an uprooting Ponderosa Pine. Skip donated the work to his Hometown Sisters, Oregon.

This is a short doc. by Joe Leonardi of Armstrong's carving process and the community event that was spontaineously held around it.