Art in the High Desert Nationally Acclaimed, Locally Embraced

Each August since 2008 the welcoming banks of the Deschutes River in the Old Mill District in Bend come alive for one of the premier fine art shows in the country: Art in the High Desert (AHD).
In its short ten years Art in the High Desert has been nationally recognized year after year accumulating a desired following with some pretty significant accolades including tenth in the nation for art sales out of 600 reviewed by Art Fair Source Book.

It has consistently risen to top ranking among art festivals around the nation following Art on the Square in St. Louis, festivals in Sausalito, La Quinta, Fort Worth, Woodlands in Texas, Cherry Creek in Denver, Des Moines and Plaza Art Fair in Kansas City, Missouri.

Dave Fox, who founded the festival with his wife, jewelry designer Carla Fox, had a simple vision: to bring truly original thought and intent, going beyond the expected, fine art and craft to Central Oregon.“We thought it would be a good way to jump start the arts community; there was a need to stimulate conversation, which is what this encompasses. We formed a great collaboration with the Old Mill District and Art in the High Desert was born.”AHD showcases new artists every year as well as past favorites. This year the juried show had 697 total applications narrowed down to over 115 artists from across North America including 46 new artists for 2017.

Dave notes that they keep it to a reasonable number of artists so it’s a successful, balanced the show. There is work for sale at every price point. “Artists will come from 28 different states, predominately from the Northwest,” he explains, “but a large number are from the east. The show is positioned during the busiest tourist season so artists can travel to several shows including Jackson Hole, Sun Valley, Portland and the Bay Area.”

It is a coveted venue for local artists as well and six Central Oregonians are represented this year: Danae Bennet-Miller-Printmaking & Sculpture, Cheryl Chapman-Glass, Kim Chavez-Sculpture, Annie Chrietzberg-Ceramics, Carla Fox-Jewelry and Mary Medrano-2-D Mixed.

“We make sure that everyone is an original artist,” says Dave, “these are the artists who do the work…unveiling a strong story about their work. We want artists who are really pushing beyond what you would see anywhere else. “There are four things we say: original thought and intent — going beyond what is expected, overall concept or voice of their work, excellence in craftsmanship and consistency in style, that it really stands out.”

Along with bringing over 115 qualified artists and numerous visitors and art collectors to Bend each August, the nonprofit show is produced by an all volunteer collection of artists and art patrons. AHD is one of the local organizations recognized for the cultural tourism impact they have in Central Oregon.

In a survey of over thirty art and cultural member organizations in the Art & Culture Alliance of Central Oregon, data shows that more than $16 million are spent annually on the arts in the area. The art show has been particularly successful at attracting cultural tourists, many coming from outside Central Oregon (including Florida, New York, Alaska and Hawaii) and most come specifically for AHD.
Dave and Carla contemplated how they could identify and encourage artists to really put together a great presentation of their work and engage with the public. The result was the creation of five Benchmark Awards.

As explained on the AHD website, “Many art festivals present awards to exhibitors. Most commonly in our experiences the awards are listed as ‘Best of—’ with a “winner” from each media category or from the whole show. We believe that our jury already made those awards and that art is not a competitive event, that recognition goes to each of our chosen artists.
“Our Benchmark Awards are another way for us to honor excellence at the show. Since the beginning of Art in the High Desert we have emphasized specific goals, values and behaviors that have helped us to shape what the show is today.

“Our Benchmark Awards will recognize those artists who we believe best exemplify those attributes including practicing thoughtful and professional presentation to the public, in booth and art, being well prepared for all aspects of the show, upbeat and positive in their work, and with the public and fellow artists, making an effort to be actively involved with the public during the show, helping others to understand and appreciate the value of art in quality living and showing excellence in their applied art and their work in general.”

AHD will acknowledge up to five artists who they believe embody the standards, goals and benchmarks of Art in the High Desert. Benchmark awards are selected by the AHD board and announced Sunday, August 28, 8:45am at a special catered breakfast in the Hospitality Tent.
You can win, buy, give and shop with Art Bucks, AHD currency made just for you. They are a great way to start your art buying at the next show. You can buy the gift of art for your friends, colleagues, clients, family or even yourself.

“With over 115 professional artists selling their art from throughout North America, everyone can find something unique to add to their art collection,” reminds Dave. AHD will include your name or business name in the AHD Program if you purchase $500+ in Art Bucks (must purchase before August 1).

When you come to the show, fill-out the AHD survey (from volunteers or at the Information Booth) and have a chance to win Art Bucks. AHD is awarding $2,000 in Art Bucks — $100 each to twenty lucky buyers. There will be ten winners Friday and ten winners Saturday with drawings held Friday and Saturday afternoons at 5pm. You do not need to be present to win.

You can purchase Art Bucks on the AHD website.

Art in the High Desert
Weekend before Labor Day Weekend, August 25-27
On the banks of the Deschutes River in the Old Mill District.
Over 115 highly acclaimed artists from across North America.
Friday – Saturday, 10am-6pm
Sunday 10am-4pm
Free Admission


Gregory Strachov
Strachover, awarded the Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Art by the Butler Institute of American Art, hails from Floral City, Florida.
The paintings of Gregory Strachov are in collections all over the world. His work has been honored in prominent museums in this country as well as abroad. Strachov has conducted numerous lectures on art and theory and these have been televised as well as used as instructional material in museums and in graduate studies. During his career, his work has earned 63 prestigious awards.
During 2001, 16 mid career artists were selected from the United States to be shown at the Chateau Musee’, a museum owned by the Grimaldi family of Monaco, situated at the top of a hill overlooking the Mediterranean in Cagnes sur Mer, France. This was an exhibition to show that there are new directions as well as new explorations in painting. Four of Strachov’s works were featured and he was honored with one of four top awards.

Strachov has taken a good look at the art world and the strata of art that is offered. He realized that one of the major proponents to abstraction was the removal of the narrative.“I wanted to paint great beauty which had imagery that provoked no reason for its existence other than the beauty of that moment. To do so, I had to search for a subject matter which offered no meaning other than the beauty of the object itself. I drove to the deserted landscape of the West and walked and explored the landscape for months.

“In this vastness, I found profound changes in my thinking had occurred. While walking through that landscape, with each step that I took, I learned to feel more than I had to think. In this enormous and empty place I found the most where other minds see the least. My current work is the direct result of this realization.”

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