Art in the High Desert
At just nine years old, Art in the High Desert (AHD)—Bend’s riverside juried art show—has surpassed the likes of Portland’s Art in the Pearl (21 years old) and San Francisco’s Sausalito Art Festival (65 years old) as one of the highest quality shows in the nation. Ranked #10 by the Art Fair Sourcebook, AHD is known to present unique work while catering to show attendees and artist sales success. AHD is the only show in the Northwest ranked within the top 25.
As a testament to its popularity, the art show received a record 697 entries this year. Artists are coming from 28 states to fill the 115 openings.
“Artists say that they heard about our show from other artists—even from as far away as the East Coast,” says founder and hands-on board member Dave Fox.
The event’s hallmark—from the artist perspective—lies in the marketing and sales strategies coaching. Prior to the show—even for those who are not accepted—the jury team offers the option to receive upwards of four pages of feedback on application materials. While not industry standard, taking the extra time is appreciated by the artists.
In addition, the AHD organizers have, from the start, given out “Benchmark Awards” to the five artists who have shown that they are actively informing and involving their booth visitors. Board members roam the show to provide conversational practice and to get to know more about each artist.
“Artists say that they heard about our show from other artists—even from as far away as the East Coast.” – Dave Fox
Last year was wooden drum maker Paul Namkung’s first year at AHD when he picked up one of the Benchmark Awards.
“I didn’t get in the first year I applied, so to get the award the first year I was accepted, it was especially gratifying,” recalls Namkung, a Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico native. “It was one of the best shows I’ve done in 25 years. The town is great, the beer is great, the promoters are great.”
“It was a lot of fun and sales were phenomenal,” adds La Pine art glass artist Cheryl Chapman. “It met all my expectations and exceeded most.”
Bend ceramics artist Annie Chrietzberg was accepted on her first try for the 2017 show. She is very aware of the strict adherence to the show criteria. The match is a good one for her, as she puts a lot of effort into keeping her art fresh. She makes functional pieces, coffee pots with pour-overs and pitchers and the like, and recently added trays that set groupings together.
“There’s nothing worse than doing a bad show,” says Chrietzberg. “This was the one on the top of my list. I’m thrilled to have gotten into it the first time applying.”
The artists offer kudos to the jury for their ability to ensure that the final roster includes only art that displays:
Original thought and intent.
Overall strong concept.
Excellence in craftsmanship.
Consistency of style and presentation.
This year’s jurors were:
Pat Clark – Bend print maker, all-around artist, founder of A-6 Studio & Workshop, and arts educator.
Karen Gelbard – Pacific City wearables artist 2015 AHD Benchmark Award winner.
Alan Higinbotham – Albany ceramics artist.
Mary Medrano – Bend mixed media artist and instructor.
This year’s Art in the High Desert will take place August 25 through 27 in its usual spot along the picturesque Deschutes River in the Old Mill District.