News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Chalk adds a layer of fun to market

When Fran Willis joined the Seed to Table board of directors, she also joined Sisters Farmers Market Manager Caroline Hager’s efforts to make the market the best it could be. Willis suggested adding art to reflect the community’s bounty of talented visual artists. Last weekend, that idea took shape, enhancing the event that’s become a local favorite with homegrown music, produce, and products.

Willis asked local artist Paul Alan Bennett for some ideas for art at Fir Street Park. Bennett had seen chalk drawings on sidewalks at events and thought Fir Street Park was a perfect canvas for that medium.

“It was just a matter of getting chalk and deciding what we wanted to do there,” he said.

Bennett sees the theme of fruit and veggies as perfect subjects for the pictures. But for the first installment, he decided to go big-picture.

“We began with the earth and food that we grow and share,” said Bennett.

He was happy to have a few kids join his efforts. Willis also filled in some areas of the chalk mural.

“We hope to hand this over to a group of kids and expand the work to other areas on the concrete. There are large panels by the restrooms that could display images that relate to the event, like berries, cabbage, carrots, and lettuce. Anything that ties in with the theme of what’s available at the market,” said Bennett.

With Hager’s insights, the Sisters Farmers Market has a focus on providing activities for kids. During the pandemic, children have participated in scavenger hunts and been given art kits to take home. As things slowly open up, the chalk murals are a fun activity kids can do together.

Like sand castles on the beach, the murals aren’t meant to last long. When the kids’ splash pad is turned on at noon, it will wash away.

“It’ll be fun to do it every week. It’s a labor-of-love project and a fun activity,” said Bennett.

Paul Alan Bennett’s previous contribution to beautifying Fir Street Park can be seen in the metal tree-and-birds sculpture on the back wall of the Song Bird stage at the park. A nationally recognized Sisters artist, he also painted the tree on the side of The Belfry just down Main Street from the park. Bennett created the popular murals inside the tunnels on either side of the Deschutes River near the Old Mill District.

Bennett invited attendees to check out two books he has for sale at the Market information booth. “Night Skies” and “Pandemic Portraits” feature scenes around Oregon.

“My latest book has portraits of Central Oregon people in pandemic masks, which is a documentary of the time we’ve been living in and how it’s affected us,” he said.

Bennett’s work can also be seen at Sisters Gallery & Frame Shop on Hood Avenue.


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