News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Studio tour provides unique opportunity for art lovers

A super-sized painting depicting romantic ballroom dancers and a moose cast in clay… What do they have in common? Both are part of the Artist Studio Tour taking place this Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., in and around Sisters, sponsored by the Sisters Arts Association.

The artists, Rochelle Carr and Kim Chavez, live on the same street in Eagle Crest. Carr is the “new kid on the block,” she says, having recently relocated from California. Both are seasoned artists, but this is Carr’s first time with the Studio Tour, while Chavez has participated for the past two years.

Carr’s four-by-six-foot painting, called “Dance the Night Away with Me,” is a mixed-media work that portrays a golden couple dancing in a field of brilliant hues. The piece is both personal and passionate for Carr, who comes from a family of dancers.

“My grandfather taught me to swing dance when I was 16, at an Elks Club dinner. I remember the feel of his hands gripping mine so tight. He said ‘keep your elbows tight, and keep them in.’ My grandfather was a brick mason, and he and my grandmother were serious competitive dancers,” Carr said, adding that they once won a 48-hour dance marathon. Her great-grandparents were dancers on the Lawrence Welk show.

Carr used her grandfather’s trowel to sculpt some of the plasterwork on the painting, and then used a tiny brush to color some of the shapes, while others were filled in with 23.75-karat gold leaf. The effect is stunning: the woman in a long gown with a ruffle at the hem, the man leading as they dance the night away; silhouetted in front of a field as vibrant as a stained glass window.

“MOOSE” is the creation of sculptor Kim Chavez, who just returned from an intensive bronze wildlife workshop and artist gathering in Jackson, Wyoming.

“MOOSE is pre-cast in clay,” Chavez explained.

Serious buyers get a deal by purchasing a piece while in its pre-cast clay stage — that is, before it goes to the foundry where it is cast in bronze, in limited edition.

In addition to “MOOSE,” Chavez will have a river otter and a peacock in pre-cast stages. The colors aren’t there yet, but people will just have to picture the final rendition, including the blues, greens, and other peacock colors.

“I will have pictures,” she said.

She casts small, limited editions at a foundry that accepts only a handful of artists.

Chavez, whose work can be seen locally at Hood Avenue Art and around the country, is a self-taught artist, whose initial efforts were trial-and-error.

“I used to make animals in clay for 15 to 17 years, until I had a mentor who helped me to do bronze,” she said.

Carr began her artistic journey with mixed-media creations including fiber dolls, mosaic tiled work, metal sculpture, and vintage jewelry. She eventually turned to painting, abstract expressionism with mixed media on wood or canvas, built up with layers of acrylic and oil, paint, fiber, metallic leaf, resin, and other materials. She never painted people until she started going to private ateliers (studios) in Italy. She holds dual U.S.-Italian citizenship, and much of her work is inspired by travel. After the tour, she will leave for several weeks in Italy and Europe, refueling her artistic spirit. Locally, her work is on display at Sisters Gallery & Frame Shop.

The artists discovered common ground, before they even met. In 2018, Chavez was commissioned to create a life-sized bronze sculpture of sea lions in Capitola, California. The sculpture is called “Embrace.” Carr has photographs of her young California granddaughters climbing on and embracing these same sea lions.

Carr and Chavez are just two of the 32 artists featured in 19 studios on this year’s tour. There are well-known and widely collected local painters, potters, jewelers, glass artists, photographers, mixed-media artists, printmakers, and sculptors.

Printed Studio Tour Guides are available at all artist studios, local galleries, restaurants, Chamber of Commerce, post office, and other businesses. A downloadable version is available online at

There is no fee for this self-guided tour. Artists look forward to meeting people, sharing their stories, and demonstrating their work.


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