by JEFF SPRY Cascade A&E Feature Writer
Gleaming in the spring sun, Vista Bonita Glass Art Studio and Gallery opened last month beside Donterra Artworks in Sisters. It’s a bright collection of whimsical, functional glass art, designer ceramics, fine art photography and unique landscape paintings.
Owners Jerry and Debbie Chinn are proprietors of this latest glass emporium and are thrilled to be part of the regional art scene. Dangling from the new gallery’s storefront windows is a rainbow array of hand-blown glass hummingbird feeders in various styles and shapes, luring unsuspecting customers in off the streets.
Each transparent feeder is crafted from borosilicate glass, the same material Pyrex is created from, and decorated with colorful accents and 12-gauge copper wire for the hangers. “I now offer a dripless feeder that allows hummingbirds to drink out of a beautiful glass flower,” said Debbie. “It’s less mess and there’s a wick inside to keep bees out.”
The educational aspect of the Americana classes in Sisters schools gives Chinn a chance to share the ancient process of traditional glass blowing with interested students.
“What we like about the whole project is that it’s there to fund and encourage youth to explore the arts,” said Debbie. “I was a teaching assistant for an alternative education school and used to love having kids come to the studio and make glass beads. That was one of the most rewarding jobs I ever did.”
Debbie started working with glass when she was seventeen. She moved to Prairie City back in 1990 and eventually migrated to Bend in 2011.
“The arts community is really what brought us here,” said Jerry. “We wanted to be able to do our art, sell our art and be part of that creative scene. This was the perfect place to land. We were traveling between Oregon and Mexico and wanted to settle down.
In addition to their artisan glassworks, Vista Bonita also sells the luminous creations of Washington’s glass wizard, Brian Kerkvliet.
As the owner of Gossamer Glass Studio and founder of Inspiration Farm Glass School, his stunning, ornate art is an amazing catalog of furnace-blown glass goblets, chandeliers, urns and lamps. “Brian has worked with Italian masters and is incredible,” said Debbie. “I studied with him through his advanced glass program in Washington. He’s very patient and calm as an instructor.”
And celebrating the stars, Vista Bonita is now the exclusive dealer for the stellar astro-photography of Brad Goldpaint, a Bend artist first introduced in Cascade A&E’s January 2013 cover story. “We’re so excited to have Brad in our gallery and love his work,” said the Chinns. “He’s really genuine and a huge talent. It’s going to be interesting seeing customers’ reaction to his wild, night sky pieces.
“We also have Patricia Kirk onboard, a painter who does palette knife paintings and landscapes using oil and wax paper.”
The stylish fused glass bowls and jewelry of Trish Voidance add another dimension of quality art to the eclectic shelves and display counters of Vista Bonita. “What I like about Trish’s work is that each piece is unique, named and never replicated,” said Jerry.
Branching out beyond original art, Vista Bonita will offer personal services for etching, carving, shading and airbrush enhancements on any material, from windows and doors to automotive glass, trophies and awards. “Basically all types of architectural glass,” said Jerry. “If it’s glass… we can etch it.”
The Chinns are planning future workshops in glass beadmaking, stained glass, etching and a possible advanced sculpture class with Kirkvliet as a guest instructor.
“What we’ve done here has been a complete leap of faith,” explained Jerry. “We’re very excited. The moon, the sun and the stars all aligned to make it happen and we’re happy to be artisans and business owners in Sisters and love what we do.”
Vista Bonita, 222 West Hood Ave, Suite #B, Sisters, www.vistabonitaglass.com, 541-549-4527.