Dave and Carla Fox had a vision to create a showcase for premium fine art that would attract serious art patrons to the banks of the Deschutes River in Bend.
Nine years later, Art in the High Desert is one of the most highly rated art festivals in the nation.
"It just goes to show that if you get your focus and stay with it and keep getting better, it's a good thing," Dave Fox told The Nugget. "We wanted to create a very specific type of show. It was focused on original art and it's a very well-juried show."
This year's show is set for August 25-27 on the grassy swale across the bridge from the Old Mill. The event features 115 highly acclaimed artists from across North America, representing 28 states. Those artists were selected by the jury from among 697 applications.
The four jurors seek "artists that are pushing it a little bit," Fox says - creating art that is unique and special.
The jury process is stringent - but it is not just a simple matter of acceptance or rejection. Artists use the experience and the constructive criticism that comes out of it to hone their
"We do give jury feedback to people who want it," Fox said. "We've got response from people that 'that changed my career.'"
The art patrons that attend the show tend to take the work as seriously as the artists do. Art in the High Desert is truly an art festival - and it's all about the art.
"We want the people who are really, sincerely interested in original art and not just to be entertained by an art show," Fox said. "There's not music, there's not kid art, there's not all kinds of food choices."
While the show is serious about art, it's not so rarified that it's out of reach for art lovers who have a budget to think about. Artists are encouraged to offer a certain amount of reproduction art - such as prints - along with their original work, so there are multiple price points on offer.
Fox said that Art in the High Desert is specifically making an effort to reach out to Sisters, recognizing that we have become an arts-oriented community.
"This is a population that obviously has a respect and appreciation for art," he said.
The festival is also interested in developing artists and is looking for community partnerships to further that goal.
Fox encourages Sisters art lovers to make the trip down to Bend for the festival, to encounter art and artists "that are some of the best you'll ever see."