April 25, 2008 - Bend Bulletin For The River, Artists Put On A Show to Benefit the DRC

April 29, 2008
April 25, 2008 - Bend Bulletin For The River, Artists Put On A Show to Benefit the DRC

For the River
Artists put on a show to benefit the Deschutes
By Anne Aurand / For The Bulletin
Published: April 25, 2008

If you go
What: Tumalo Art Co.’s RiverSong exhibit, a benefit for the Deschutes River Conservancy, in conjunction with the Riverfest celebration
When: Exhibit opens Thursday and runs through May; gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday
Where: 136 N.W. Greenwood Ave. Bend
Cost: Free

Contact: www.tumaloart co.com, 385-9144; www.deschutesriverfest.org

The Deschutes River coursing through Bend gave life to this region. It supported the agriculture and timber industries that populated Central Oregon some 100 years ago. It lured recreationalists, real estate prospectors and retirees who have helped Bend thrive. A group of local artists now wants to give something back to the river that needs some help.

In conjunction with the upcoming Riverfest celebration (see Tuesday’s Community Life section for more on Riverfest), Tumalo Art Co. will exhibit about 20 pieces of river-themed art in a show called RiverSong and will donate 20 percent of sales during the month of May to the Deschutes River Conservancy (see “If you go”).
The conservancy works to improve water quality and restore stream flows in the Deschutes and its tributaries. It’s a nonprofit group founded by the Environmental Defense Fund, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and local irrigation districts.

“Most of our artists paint (or) photograph nature and are very connected to the Central Oregon landscape. It is our inspiration and life’s blood,” said Susan Luckey Higdon, who runs the collective Tumalo Art Co. with Tracy Leagjeld. Leagjeld said rivers particularly inspire her and offer her peace. It was natural, then, to choose such a beneficiary.

Many of the artists in the collective show painted a scene specifically for RiverSong. And some of those sights are familiar to anyone who has spent much time along the Deschutes. Alisa Huntley’s “The Golden Hour,” an acrylic on canvas, shows a placid stretch of a river’s bend nestled along a grassy meadow and backset by trees somewhere on the Upper Deschutes. The sky and its reflection in the water are warm shades of pinks and oranges, like a summer sunset.

Huntley, who loves the outdoors, said this piece just clicked for her; the art flowed through her easily and quickly. “It was fun” to paint, she said.
Higdon, a native Oregonian and prolific painter of fish, submitted a soft pastel piece called “Canyon,” in which icy blue water rushes through pine trees, red willow branches and deciduous trees losing their leaves. Higdon said this stretch of canyon is on private property near Tumalo.

Leagjeld’s monoprint, “Max Canyon Afternoon,” shows a good fishing spot on the Lower Deschutes below Maupin. “The place is special to me,” she said. “We used to float there every year.” It looks like a hot summer day with the sunlight blazing off the desert canyon walls, bouncing off the cool blue water.
“Without trying to, we’re covering most of the geographic personalities of the river,” Higdon said. Other artists exhibiting for this show include Pam Jersey Bird, Dorothy Freudenberg, Vicki Shuck, Janice Druian, Gary Vincent, Bruce Jackson, Lindy Gruger Hanson, and Marta Batha. Their art’s price tags will range from $250 to $4,000.

This is the third time the 3-year-old Tumalo Art Co. has picked a cause to support. “In conjunction with our anniversary, we like to do a benefit,” Higdon said. Other beneficiaries have been the Deschutes Basin Land Trust and the Bend Community Center. Tumalo Art Co. is a collective, or co-op, of 12 artists who all donate a little time working in the gallery, contribute a monthly fee, and in return, pay a smaller commission than they would in a traditional gallery. Higdon and Leagjeld own the place but run it as democratically as possible, Higdon said. It operates like a normal gallery, open five days a week. The owners say a benefit of having the members work at the gallery is that anyone who walks in the doors will talk to one of the artists. The gallery, a former sign shop, is a 100-year old building, Higdon said. The members renovated the interior and created what Higdon calls an “urban chic” ambiance with concrete floors, black, high ceilings and exposed metallic heating ducts.

For the RiverSong show, in addition to the co-op members, a handful of other artists who occasionally show their work at the gallery are scheduled to participate.

Anne Aurand can be reached at aaurand@bendbulletin.com.

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