by 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