News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Living in Sisters is exhausting

Keeping up with what’s happening in Sisters is no easy feat. Saturday was a tough day for a street reporter. There was Glory Daze (see story, page 1), the Artist Studio Tour after Friday night’s Artwalk, the Three Sisters Skyline Half Marathon on Saturday and 50k on Sunday. Think about that for a moment: 50k is over 31 miles of running. In this case over uneven, mountainous terrain. Who does that?

Less exhausting was Saturday’s 5K Hop Fest run. While the Hop Fest itself was canceled due to COVID, nobody was telling those runners they couldn’t get outside and let ’er rip. And then make a run on the beer taps in town. They did, and the tap houses were ready for them. The beer was plenty. Not so much table or bar space.

And over at Faith, Hope & Charity Vineyards Friday night was three hours of music featuring Kristi Kinsey & The Whiskey Bandits, which was part of the Oregon Whiskey Festival celebration Friday and Saturday down in Bend, as if you had to leave town for something fun to do.

All this before the Festival mind you.

Much has been written in these pages about the Sisters Arts Association (SAA) 4th Friday Artwalk and, like thousands over the years, I have enjoyed the stroll down Hood popping into the galleries on these showcased Fridays. The Artist Studio Tour… well that’s a whole other thing. That requires a little sleuthing and a bit of navigating.

When talking with Dennis Schmidling, chair of Sisters Art Association, I was surprised — pleasantly so — to learn about the road less traveled by. You see, there are 91 artists listed by SAA, but only “about half are represented in galleries,” he tells me. Also, of course, not every artist in our local galleries is a member of the Association. As best as I can tell, nearly 150 artists earning an income from their toil make Sisters Country home or are “hanging” in our galleries.

That is not insignificant and gives credibility to Sisters being a true trip-worthy “art town” on the Oregon map. Speaking of maps, Schmidling’s group produced a very attractive guide for the Studio Tour.

“We could have made the Tour bigger,” Schmidling said, adding, “For this event we limited the Tour artists to those residing inside the School District boundaries. We also have studios in Tumalo and surrounding areas with excellent artists, well known in Sisters.”

The Tour needed two whole days, Saturday and Sunday, to cover the terrain that ranged northwest on Mountain View Road to see Laura Fouts’ paintings and Wendy Birnbaum’s mixed media and fine art photos. Or, southeast on Jordan Road for JoAnn Burgess’ pastel paintings.

The Tour stretched all the way to Eagle Crest to take in Mary Moore’s clay art, Sandy Dutko’s oils and acrylics, or Kim Chavez’s bronzes. Up north of Cloverdale on Wanona Road, Kaia Seiffert’s jewelry was on full display alongside Winnie Givot’s watercolors.

Schmidling was quick to point out the growth in collaboration among Sisters’ artists and this weekend was a case in point.

Suzie Zeitner, a glass artist and sculptor, teamed up with Ponderosa Forge. Art Blumenkon, a wood artist, paired up with illustrator Steve Mathews, who works with fine-line markers and colored pencils on wood.

Danae Miller, whose studio is in Tumalo and not within the 2021 Tour’s boundaries, came to town instead. She is well known to Sisters folk for her bronze works at the roundabout. She hooked up with Steve Giardini, a fine art photographer (whose work inspires me) and Kimry Jelen, a fine art painter who focuses on equines, some stunning ones in my mind.

“Collaboration among our artists is a win/win,” Schmidling stated. “It helps them grow as artists and presents opportunities for galleries to increase their range of works.” A good example is Blumenkon, whose works are sold at Hood Avenue Art and Mathews, who’s on display at Sisters Gallery & Frame. Some pieces can now be seen in both outlets.

The weather for the weekend seemed custom-ordered: a wee bit warm on Saturday, but not hot. Finding a cloud was a tough job. And there they were, hundreds in all, possibly a half-thousand or more out-of-town visitors happily converging on Sisters, clearly happy to be out and seemingly not letting COVID stand in the way of having a very good time.


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