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Gary Cooley Embarks on Exotic Adventure

Read more: Gary Cooley Embarks on Exotic AdventureArtist Gary Cooley is about to embark on an exotic adventure to the steel and neon jungles of Las Vegas for the annual Safari Club International convention from February 4-7 where he hopes a rousing crowd of art and travel enthusiasts respond to his inspiring African art collection.


A section of his cozy The Collection Gallery in Sisters is devoted to his stunning bronze sculpture pieces capturing the essence of cape buffalos, Maasai warriors, lions, gemsboks, antelopes and rhinos and he’ll be packing up and hauling close to thirty carefully wrapped artworks for the long drive to Nevada.


“I’ve been going to this show since about 1985,” he said. “When I started doing it there were only about 200 booths and now it’s expanded to around 1500 tables.  I’ve followed it around to different venues over the years and now it’s being held at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. They even tore out some walls on the convention floor to accommodate everyone.”


Formed in 1972, Safari Club International is a worldwide hunting, travel and leisure organization that also contributes to humanitarian efforts around the planet like providing clean water, medical supplies and building schools in Africa. Their 55,00 members are devoted to the mission of protecting individual’s rights to hunt and promoting wildlife conservation.


“It’s like the world’s biggest adult candy store,” Cooley joked. “There’s so much to do and see, between the jewelry and the artwork and the incredible displays from hotels and lodges all over the world.  I think they get around 25,000 patrons coming through over the long weekend.


“There’s phenomenal painters, bronze artists, lots of high end jewelry booths, made-in-Africa furniture, native folkart and outfitters from every part of the planet, travel clubs and guide services for safaris and expeditions of all kinds, everything from bass fishing on the Amazon to bear hunting in Russia.”  


Also included in the show is an amazing collection of firearms, custom knives and archery equipment. Cabelas is there in force and numerous outdoor apparel and equipment manufacturers.  


“I have pedestals for almost every art piece, as well as all my own lighting and carpeting.  Some of the corporate setups there are amazingly elaborate. The architecture of their booths are spectacular, with heavy wooden beams and it’s evident how much work everyone does to make this show beautiful.”


Some of the most popular pieces Cooley sold over the years are his vivid bronze Maasai warriors and the African sable and kudu busts. Another prized piece is his black panther and leopard coffee tables that elicit a lot of attention during the swarms of excited adventure fans flooding the four-day event.


“It’s always fun because I enjoy visiting, to meet people and connect. I have a really great location this year for our setup. Through the years I’ve donated quite a few art pieces for their live auction and your place on their booth selection list is based on monies collected from those auctions so I’m at number 62 out of 1500, which gives me a premium spot.   

Karen, my wife, is a big asset.  She’s really good with new clients and sales and I’m grateful to have her along for the trip.”


Gary Cooley’s The Collection Gallery
353 West Hood Avenue in downtown Sisters

THINGS Etc. Adds to Hood Avenue in Sisters

Read more: THINGS Etc. Adds to Hood Avenue in Sistersby JEFF SPRY AE Feature Writer


Expanding her jewelry and art enterprise in downtown Sisters, Candyce Park has found a new home for her Things Etc. gallery amid the burgeoning creative scene on Hood Avenue, joining eight other galleries down the boulevard.

Park’s new location gives her the added space and excellent lighting to illuminate her own artisan jewelry creations as well as works by Steve Frandsen, Lynn Rothan and Joseph “Little Bear” Sanchez.

“I’m very excited to be able to show people all the lovely art and items I’ve collected in the store,” said Park. “It’s very bright and the sun shines in the window and it just feels welcoming, open and airy. I put a disco ball out when it’s sunny to help people find me. We’re really excited at the caliber of art we offer and artistic value of the pieces by all my friends.”

Besides the clean-lined silver and gold jewelry and lapidary work Park excels at, the gallery also features the modern tribal oils, acrylics, pottery and printmaking of local Lynn Rothan.

“Lynn not only collaborates with me but also will Bill Earhart doing decorate touches to his claywork. Both Lynn and Bill have been in Central Oregon for over 25 years.”

Steve Frandsen’s bold, ethnic turquoise necklaces, signature talismanic jewelry and peyote feather fans lend an added air of distinction to the gallery and perfectly complements the varied nature of the artworks for sale.

“I think I’m definitely a unique gallery of eclectic treasures,” Park added. “I’ve loved Steve’s work ever since I moved here from Iowa in 1989. His art touches a spiritual place in me and many people and I’m proud to include his creations in my collection.”

Park has had a life-long interest in jewelry-making and jewelry repair and Central Oregon has deepened those passions with its abundance of talented artists and galleries showcasing the area’s finest. She moved here 25 years ago to do custom work and repairs for Jan Daggett, owner of The Jewel in Sisters.

Oregon is well-known as an amazing place for raw stones like plume agate, holley blue agate and Oregon opal and that has inspired Park to cut and polish stones to expand her horizons.

The Southwest-style jewelry of Little Bear glitters from Park’s glass showcases. From bolo ties and silver rings to bracelets and earrings, everything is all hand-crafted at extremely reasonable prices for such premiere quality.

“He’s a recent transplant to Bend and he has an extensive knowledge of all types of Indian jewelry and actually has an impressive collection of natural turquoise and coral before the practice of dying and stabilizing them for retail sale. His work is unique because he inherited hand-made silversmith stamps made from old files and railroad spikes that are one-of-a-kind.”

With the coming of the new year Park is looking forward to meeting new and interesting people and introducing them to the beauty of Things Etc.

“That’s one of the best things about having the store and so many of my customers have become friends and I think that’s what makes it so rewarding.”

Things Etc., 178 S. Elm Suite #E, 541-549-1529

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