by TORI YOUNGBAUER Cascade A&E Feature Writer
Red Chair Gallery has become a artistic landmark in downtown Bend. Featuring a variety of mediums from local artists, the collaborative gallery has a myriad of artistic mediums to offer, especially this winter.
In December, Red Chair has multiple ways to help celebrate the holiday season. Ten percent of artist sales this month are donated to The Bethlehem Inn, which has been a ongoing tradition for the past five years. Red Chair will feature a small works show where small, reasonably priced artwork is sold, which is perfect for holiday gifts. This season welcomes the return of the iconic Red Chair Christmas tree which is decorated with handmade ornaments.
Four artists spotlighted at Red Chair this month share their inspirations, artistic processes and their personal involvement with the gallery.
Dee McBrien-Lee is part owner of Red Chair Gallery and was there at its inception. She gets inspiration for her artwork in a myriad of ways. “Sometimes I draw inspiration from dreams, and sometimes it comes from pieces of everyday life,” says McBrien-Lee. When it comes to her painting, The Stand, she states that inspiration came from her own experience in Colorado. “I lived in Colorado for 22 years, so aspen trees were a part of my everyday life. I then put layers of textures and colors together to create an abstract design. I usually let the pieces speak to me, especially when it comes to finding an endpoint.”
She enjoys seeing the growth that has taken place at Red Chair and is excited for the holiday season at the gallery.
Shelly Wierzba regularly works with oil as a plein air painter. “I mostly do still life painting and rarely use photographs for my work. Plein air is about taking big ideas and
learning to express those inspirations in paint, differently from how a writer might express themselves,” explains Wierzba. Her watercolor painting featured on the cover has a wonderful original story.
“Last year, my mother-in-law was placed in Fox Hollow, an assisted living home here in Bend. The staff was so involved and they truly have a family environment there.” Wierzba’s mother-and-law wanted to participate in an annual holiday door decorating contest and Shelly was enthusiastic to help. Wierzba created a beautiful watercolor Santa, that won first prize for the contest. “She
was so excited to really be involved and winning really made her feel even more at home.”
Sue Lyon-Manley, one of the founding members of Red Chair Gallery, focuses in painting plein air landscapes, but her art still has a broad range. “When the Mirror Pond Gallery closed, there was a hole left in the art community. A group of us created a co-op and discussed the possibilities of creating a new space at the heart of downtown.” Once the gallery was established, Sue felt it was time to focus her energies on her other businesses. She spends her time painting and running fine art workshops within Bend, but her ties to Red Chair still remain strong.
She speaks about her paintings in terms of passion. “The inspiration for the Amaryllis came to me through holiday decorations. I love the deep red of this flower, and it makes me think of the holidays,” she states. “I’ve had mentors tell me to, ‘paint something that you are passionate about,’ my passion is everything Central Oregon has to offer. I have a passion for landscapes and there is endless inspiration out here.”
Sue Honnell is another artist being featured at Red Chair who has been with the gallery since the beginning. “Many of the original artists were involved with the former Mirror Pond Gallery and we were all looking for a new space where we could share our work.” When it comes to her work, Sue likes to take photos as well as sketching on site at inspiring locations.
“My husband and I enjoy traveling to different places around Oregon and making a day of it. I carry my sketchbook with me so that I can draw a landscapes that speaks to me. The great thing about painting is there is an opportunity to take pieces from photos and choose to include what I like about each scene,” Honnell explains. “I think
we are so blessed to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Oregon has so much beauty to offer and being out here just makes you want to be an artist with all this inspiration around us.”
Be sure to take a look at all of the beautiful artwork Red Chair Gallery has to offer this holiday season.
Red Chair Gallery, 103 NW Oregon Ave., 541-306-3176, www.redchairgallerybend.com
Images from top to bottom: The Stand by Dee McBrien-Lee; Santa watercolor by Shelly Wierzba, and her mother-and-law, Pat; Amaryllis by Sue Lyon-Manley; Winter at Fall River by Sue Honnell