By Karen Koppel

The Bulletin

If you go

What: Lumin Art Studios grand opening

When: 1-4 p.m. Saturday

Where: 19855 Fourth St., Suite 103, Bend (in Tumalo)

Cost: Free admission

Contact: or alisha@luminart

Vibrant reds, pinks and greens punctuate the white walls of the bright storefront space. Acrylic paintings and fabric art explode in color across a blank canvas. On the left, pieces of sterling silver and gold jewelry twinkle from their cases. On the right hangs contemporary pieces of encaustic art. Four smiling female faces and a gentle greyhound greet visitors.

This is Lumin Art Studios, a new working art studio in Tumalo that will open to the public Saturday to celebrate its grand opening (see “If You Go”), and then every second Saturday after that.

Lumin’s director, Alisha Vernon, has a habit of starting women’s groups. So when it came time to start a working art studio, she naturally invited artists from the women’s art group she established a year and a half ago.

“I don’t know if there’s a deeper reason,” she said, “but I want to empower women. … Women are awesome and wonderful.”

Lumin definitely has a female vibe as the four women and one dog (yes, she’s a female) work both together and independently on works of art. Like light bouncing and reflecting off various surfaces, the artists share ideas on everything from art to business and marketing.

“Being a group of women made it easier to step outside of my comfort zone,” said Lisa Marie Sipe, an encaustic, acrylic and mixed media sculpture artist. In her encaustic work, Sipe uses beeswax and microcrystalline wax in an effort to draw inspiration from the environment while also questioning the impact of humans.

Her “Bathed in Fire” series looks at how the 2011 Wallow Fire changed the landscape at Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area in Arizona, where her husband grew up. The series also includes pieces inspired by the Pole Creek Fire in Sisters.

Nature is also an inspiration for jewelry artist McKenzie Mendel, a Bend native. Finding textures in trees and plants during her outdoor adventures, she packs along a sketchbook and records ideas to challenge her in her metalwork.

Her two-tone abstract pieces of sterling silver and gold are created using keum boo, an ancient Korean method of applying gold to silver, and a hammering technique to add the various textures.

Mendel is a graduate of the Savannah School of Art and Design who returned to Bend because she loves the area. Her greyhound rescue dog, Hotwire, is the official studio mate. Every week Hotwire “picks” a favorite piece of artwork from all the artists to display on Facebook.

Currently experimenting with beachwater themes in greens, fabric artist Natalie Gshwandtner creates functional artwork from napkins to pillows to quilts. To differentiate herself, she creates her own fabric using Shibori, a Japanese method of clamping and binding cloth before dyeing to create patterns on the fabric.

“I love working with fabrics, because you have a visual and tactile experience,” she said.

Gshwandtner also uses screen printing, with each piece turning out differently due to the variations of the original fabric.

Vernon, an acrylic artist, rounds out Lumin’s quartet. Her bold and vibrant pieces can be categorized into two types: intuitive, freestyle abstracts and female figures. The former is an exercise in listening to herself as she paints — an extension of her time spent with her father in his art class as a 4-year-old.

For the latter she creates powerful images of women in an effort to combat demeaning images. Painting was always a big deal in Vernon’s house growing up, and now that her son is older and in preschool, she can paint a lot once again.

As the beacon guiding the studio, Vernon said she chose the name Lumin “because it is the root word for light and I like the way it sounds. Light feels like positivity, life, love, goodness, truth, the general aesthetic of the space and a clean foundation for an artist to create from.” She aims to create a private workspace that is welcoming to the public once a month or by appointment.

In addition to their space at Lumin Art Studios, each artist shows individually around the region and sells their artwork online.

Saturday’s grand opening will feature guest artist and illustrator Taylor Rose, another participant in Vernon’s women’s art group. According to the studio’s website,, Lumin’s open house in May will feature a show of art by mothers and their children of any age or ability.

A future show for professional artists or hobbyists will focus on dogs. Hotwire will surely have something to say about that.

— Reporter: 541-383-0351,