News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters celebrates arts and music

The music extravaganza, Big Ponderoo, was made more delicious by partnering with the Sisters Arts Association who hold an art walk on the fourth Friday of most months. The art stroll is a fixture in the Sisters culture scene, growing in popularity while showcasing local, national, and international artists.

The gallery walks are becoming a regular destination event for visitors from around Oregon. Many came Friday not knowing that they would have the additional treat of live music at 13 galleries.

Photo by Bill Bartlett

Alicia Viani and Lilli Worona played at Toriizaka Art as part of the Ponderoo Arts Experience last Friday.

It is not uncommon for two or three galleries to include music as an enhancement to the experience, but 13 — "That was a joy to behold," said Merrill Bradshaw of Corvallis.

Her partner, Dixie Chalmers, added: "We had no idea you could get so much music into a few blocks. And good, really good, music."

"It was a distraction but one I'm glad to have," said Del Foster from Eugene. His wife, Kris, agreed. "We were worried we'd not have time to see every gallery as we found ourselves lingering longer at each stop. We were kind of mesmerized by the music."

Attendees described the music variously as "soothing," "magnetic," "atmospheric." Patrons described at length how the combination of art forms enhanced the experience for both.

"It's both art in front of music and music in front of art," said Jim Bridwell of Medford. His wife, Susan, thought one was indistinguishable from the other. "It's easy to see the music as an addition to the art but I saw it just the opposite. I was hearing hours of great music with some truly good art in the background."

Complimentary light food and beverages were included along the stops.

"By my seventh gallery I was starting to think of cancelling my dinner reservations," quipped Willa Johansen, visiting from McMinnville.

Had she done so, there would have been a waiting list to fill her spot. Every restaurant and watering hole in town was benefitting from the partnered event, some with reservations made months ago.

Art walkers were offered a Ponderoo Passport with a map of the participating galleries. Passport holders would get a stamp at each stop and those whose passports were full were rewarded with a Little Ponderoo, a miniature wood rainbow trout created by Jason Chinchen and the Sisters High School Woods II students and decorated by local artists and art lovers.

While most galleries remained open until 7 p.m., a few hundred walkers, teased by a cornucopia of music and art, headed to Village Green Park, the Big Ponderoo venue, for a sneak peek concert from festival bands The Parnells and The Sam Chase and The Untraditional on the Ponderoo main stage.

The art didn't end in the galleries. At Village Green there was a community weaving project, fish painting, a creativity table and puppet theater. Most eyes were on the bands who thrilled the audiences.

Musical artists at the galleries were a diverse mix of voices, instruments, and songs.

"I assumed it would all be western or folk music, it being Sisters," said a surprised Dory Simmons of Bend. "The music was as eclectic as the art," husband Rolf added.

Included in the roster of musicians were student performers from Sisters High School Americana Project.

Founded in 2000, the Americana Project is a SFF innovative music and arts education program with broad community outreach. This elective music class at Sisters High School provides students with an outlet for creative self-expression, including guitar playing, writing songs, performing, and recording. Students have an opportunity to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills through the lens of an artist.

Among the featured artists was Christie Lower, artist in residence at Pine Meadow Ranch Center for the Arts and Agriculture (PMRCAA).

The vision at PMRCAA is to connect sustainable agricultural practices, conservation, arts and sciences with traditional and contemporary crafts and skills integral to ranching life including metal, glass, wood and leather work, ceramics, fibers, and textiles, writing, painting and drawing, photography, film, and music.


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