What: Group show “Water Tables”

When: Displays through Nov. 27; gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday

Where: Bend Art Center, 550 SW Industrial Way, Suite 180, Bend

Cost: Free

Contact: bendartcenter.org

Pat Clark knows the importance of water. She grew up in Minnesota, nicknamed “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” where the Red River flooded her childhood home. As an adult, the artist has lived in the desert of California and, of course, in Central Oregon’s High Desert, where the master printmaker founded Atelier 6000, aka A6, in 2007.

Clark has funneled her memories, feelings and beliefs about the liquid of life into “Water Tables,” a group show organized by Clark and on exhibit through Nov. 27 at Bend Art Center, formerly known as Atelier 6000. The pieces capture “mappings of the edges and ledges of the water table, and metaphorical symbols of the table itself,” as literature for the show states.

Along with creating her own water works, Clark invited six other artists to transmute water into art through painting, photo and sculpture.

“As you can see by the language on the wall, we all kind of just discussed the whole thing about the importance of water in the West,” Clark said, referring to the artists accompanying statements.

There’s something comforting in the shades of blue, light gray and subtle green of encaustic artist Barbara Hudin’s “By the Beautiful Sea.” Encaustic is a painting method involving the application of hot wax, and the texture and a handful of bubbles seem to suggest sea foam on the shore.

Rushing bubbles and undulating underwater inform photographer Carol Sternkopf’s inkjet print “Surfacing Orb.” The below-the-surface scene captures not only the movement of water, but with towering firs standing above the surface, also conveys the importance of clean water to surrounding life.

Clark gave the four sculptors who participated in “Water Tables,” Bill Cravis, Ron Schultz, Christian Brown and Abney Wallace, Ikea tables to do with what they would. Each of the artists turned in a very different take on the project. Brown received a slightly different table to begin with than the other three, and covered it with plastic bags and plastic water bottles stuffed with wood chips.

When Clark gave Cravis his table, “I’d heard of these types of projects where a number of artists are given a particular object and then asked to reimagine it,” he said. “So I interpreted it as using the table and nothing but the table and sort of deconstructing and reconstructing.”

Cravis laughed when asked if he had experience assembling Ikea furniture. He didn’t, but he does have an Ikea sofa. “That’s as far as I go with Ikea,” he said.

An art instructor at Central Oregon Community College, Cravis had plenty of time in advance to complete his contribution to “Water Tables.”

“And then, just like a caricature of my own students, I procrastinated,” he said. In his defense, he planned to work on it in July and August, “and at the last minute, I got a residency in Vermont for the month of August. And so when I came back at the beginning of September, I had to start and finish it.”

Working under intense water pressure seems to have paid off: His sculpture, “Told You So,” dramatically depicts two tiny figures atop of a giant iceberg, which he made from the table.

“I’m always concerned about (water) and think of it in the abstract,” he said. “And this project helped me to do a little more ‘research’ sort of looking into even what is a water table, basically.”

Since the show opened in October, Bend Art Center has put on a number of related programs and hosted students from area schools to see the exhibit and make prints in the studio.

“I think it’s the next big war of the West. … We really need to be making our youth more aware of it, and the importance of this flow of life with water,” Clark said.

“Water Tables: Sketches,” a related show of Clark’s multimedia drawings, hangs at Central Oregon Community College’s Barber Library through Nov. 27. Done over a three-year period, the 30-something pieces capture the way Clark worked toward the abstracted waterscapes in the group show.

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