Who: Heather Vihstadt, director of development at the nonprofit High Desert Museum, also serves on the jury for the annual exhibit “Art in the West.” The show features more than 70 works by local, regional and national artists, mostly painters, and opens with a public reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday.

A silent auction of the landscape, wildlife, figurative, abstract and other works in the show begins during Friday’s reception, which features appetizers, a cash bar and live jazz. Artists Janice Druian, Dawn Emerson, Sarah Hansen, Judy Hoiness, Kat Houseman, Eric Jacobsen and Hadley Rampton will be on hand creating works live and interacting with visitors. The show and auction continue through the 30th annual High Desert Rendezvous on Aug. 24.

Q: Any pieces in the show you’re particularly excited about?

A: Oh, goodness. Well, frankly I think it’s a really stellar show. It’s a juried exhibition, and in recent years it’s by invitation only, which essentially means we’re specifically reaching out to esteemed artists from the region and the nation to invite them to submit for consideration. … The commonality is that the works are depicting the High Desert. … And then our jury committee reviews the work and makes selections. This year, it resulted in 48 artists and 75 pieces in a really wide range of styles, from contemporary to traditional.

Q: Is this one of the bigger fundraisers for the museum?

A: Certainly. So the High Desert Rendezvous is our signature fundraiser, and this will be our 30th anniversary. Last year, it garnered over $500,000 in support of our mission. And the Art in the West show is a big component of that. The opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday is part of the silent auction. It is free and open to the public; we just ask that folks go online to highdesertmuseum.org and RSVP. What I’m really excited about is we have seven artist demonstrations. … And we’ll have several other artists in attendance as well. There are (also) some artists that are new to the show this year that we’re really excited about, being on a national level: Lorenzo Chavez (Colorado), Troy Collins (Montana), Craig Mitchell (Nevada) and Richard York (Oregon). … And then there’s a couple of other things that may be noteworthy. We have two award winners. Curator’s choice went to Analee Fuentes. She’s of Mexican-American descent, and that inspired her love of vibrant colors and rich patterning. Her work’s really interesting. She does large-scale paintings based on the study of native fish in the region. It borders on abstraction and realism. Her work is collected both nationally and internationally. And then, Jury’s Choice is a local artist this year, Sarah Hansen. And she utilizes mixed-media to paint really a wide array of subjects inspired by nature. She really aims to use art as a platform to help preserve wild spaces. … She exhibits in many Pacific Northwest galleries and she also teaches workshops, as well.

Q: How well is High Desert Rendezvous attended?

A: If folks are interested in attending, they ought to go online and reserve their seats and tables now. We typically have about 350 of the museum’s most philanthropic supporters at that event. It typically sells out.

Q: Does it get pretty competitive there at the end?

A: It can. Yes. While we accept bids throughout the month of the exhibition, most of the bidding occurs at the High Desert Rendezvous fundraiser, and indeed it can get competitive. I’ve watched board members compete over particular pieces. (Laughs) That was rather amusing. You know, sitting there with pencil in hand as the auction closes.

— David Jasper, The Bulletin

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