by RENEE PATRICK Cascade A&E Editor
Dorothey Eberhardt has had a long and varied career as a professional artist and her current journey into landscape photography truly captures not only the majestic beauty of Central Oregon’s wild places, but a sense of the magic that can be found in nature.
Art has always played a pivotal role in Eberhardt’s life. After getting her art education degree at the University of Oregon, she taught junior high art in the Medford area for a few years; the best part of teaching on that level, she explained, was covering a wide variety of mediums. “I have changed my mediums [many times], and I like to investigate new things,” she explained.
“I’m always growing and I’m always changing,” she commented, “because I can’t do the same thing for 40 years, to me that would get boring.”
Eberhardt opened the first art gallery in Ashland, Oregon after she finished teaching in Medford, and when her husband, David, who was heavily involved in the ski industry, came to work at Mt. Bachelor in the early ‘70s, the couple transition to life in the high desert.
Soon after moving to Bend, they began a 35-year journey in the national art-show circuit. In a collaborative process, David, an accomplished woodworker and designer, and Dorothy, at the time working in copper and enamel, created functional pieces like lamps, and napkin and earring holders. “Doing the art shows influenced me more than anything else,” Eberhardt commented. “When you are traveling all over the country, you can see what everyone else is doing and get a lot of new influences and meet a lot of interesting people.”
Curiosity, creativity, travel and new experiences have always been a constant inspiration to Eberhardt. “For me there are always interesting things on the horizon,” she said. “Things change, circumstances change, mediums and materials change; for me it’s more important to be expressing my own ideas, so mediums are secondary to expressing the ideas.”
Eberhardt made another shift in mediums upon David’s passing 12 years ago, turning to one of her first loves: photography. “I have been a photographer since my Dad gave me my first camera when I was 10 years old,” she said. “He was a really good photographer, and was the kind of guy that had the two cameras around his neck,” she laughed, explaining back then the different cameras had to do with different ISO speeds.
“But until David passed away I didn’t start selling photography,” she said. “Then I wanted to have something that I could sell myself and was totally me.
“I like the challenge of combining nature but doing it in an artistic way, it’s not just that I’m going to take a sunrise shot, I really want a good artistic photograph, and good composition,” she explained. “I plan and do things to help me be get better photos, and I love to wander too, just to see what I can find.”
Eberhardt explains that through photography she became much more of an outdoors woman. “[Through taking landscapes] I now just absolutely adore nature and the outdoors…. For me it’s the experiences that are the most important. If I’m having a great time, I usually end up with good photos.
“My objective is to have a good time when I’m taking photos. It’s of the utmost importance…and I also have a very high standard of what I want, and it’s not just a picture of a sunrise, it has to be a good composition and show the absolute beauty of the place in its best form.”
The only photographer at Red Chair Gallery in Bend since their opening days in 2010, Eberhardt fills a popular niche with her landscapes, and is the featured artist for January. “Red Chair Gallery is a real asset to the community because they feature a lot of local artists,” Eberhardt said.
“I enjoy people and I am always there on every first Friday. In fact [at a recent] First Friday, I sold something to a repeat customer, and she commented on the magic of my work. I thought that was wonderful. There are lots of things about photography that I enjoy, and when I end up with these wonderful images, to me I’ve accomplished something, as [my customer said], the magic.”
Red Chair Gallery Fosters Local Artists
An anchor in the downtown art scene since opening in August 2010, Red Chair Gallery is brimming with works from over 30 artists. The membership gallery is located in the historic O’Kane Building at 103 NW Oregon Street, and displays everything from paintings, photographs and woodwork, to jewelry, pottery and fabrics.
“We are all local artists,” explained Lise Hoffman-McCabe, one of the founding artist/partners. “That sets us apart, and our prices are manageable for people. But the biggest thing [that has made us a success] is our mix of art.”
Opening in the middle of a recession was difficult for many in the high desert, but Red Chair made it through the downturn and continues to thrive. Interestingly enough one of the biggest indicators of a changing economic climate has been what kinds of art sells. “Since opening ceramics have been our number one seller,” said Hoffman-McCabe, “Functional art has always sold well, but we have seen a big trend towards painting lately. When we opened the paintings didn’t sell.”
An important factor when a new artist approaches the Gallery for a place to display their art lies in the mix of what is already available. “Our requirement is first that they are local, and then we see what our needs are…we always looking for a good mix [of media].”
The Gallery is comprised of four partner/owners including Rita Dunlavy, finance; Linda Heisserman, membership; Lise Hoffman-McCabe, marketing and Dee McBrien-Lee, gallery director. “We see ourselves as a gallery for the artists; it’s not just about sales,” Hoffman-McCabe explained. “All four of us feel like we are providing something special for local artists…we are about promoting art and artists that are up-and-coming and act as a service to artists as a place for them to show their art.”
Aside from the wide range of art available, engaging with their community remains essential. From the annual donation to the Bethlehem Inn at the holidays to the April student show, Red Chair Gallery strives to give back to the community that supports them.
Red Chair Gallery, 103 NW Oregon Ave., 541-306-3176, www.redchairgallerybend.com