Art in the High Desert is the No. 12 ranked fine art show in the land, according to Greg Lawler’s Fine Art Fair SourceBook, a resource for artists and artisans based on sales data and anecdotal info from the exhibiting artists themselves.
That seems only fitting since the festival is in its 12th year.
The ranking means that artists who are lucky and talented enough to be juried into the show speak highly of Art in the High Desert because people who visit the Bend show — which returns to its riverside digs in the Old Mill District Friday through Sunday — tend to spend.
The juried art show has consistently ranked highly in the guide for several years. Lawler, a self-described “weary, itinerant artist,” created the guide because he “was tired of wasting valuable time, money and energy on unprofitable art fairs, and missing the deadlines for some of the most profitable ones,” according to artfairsourcebook.com.
“Each year, it keeps getting better and not bigger — on purpose. That’s our goal,” said Dave Fox, who co-founded the annual show with his wife, Carla Fox.
This year’s mix of about 117 artists and crafters — among them sculptors, woodworkers, painters, photographers, jewelers and textile and mixed-media artists — come to Art in the High Desert from 38 states and two provinces of Canada, Dave Fox said.
“To be having that breadth of exposure of artists from areas that we haven’t (had) in before, and having the artists being one of our best marketers, it is almost unanimously from other artists. They say this is a show you really want to be in. It’s run by people who are really artistic-focused.’ It’s a smaller show on purpose, because we know that that works,” Fox said.
Artists coming this year include Ella Richards, of Greenwich Village, New York, making her second consecutive trip to Bend. She calls her works “scissors drawings.”
“I create an original drawing, which I cut out of black paper with micro scissors. I then glue the black image down to watercolor paper,” she told GO! Magazine by email.
Richards is one of nearly 700 artists who submitted to the festival for consideration by this year’s jury. There are no special considerations afforded artists who made it in a previous iteration of AHD. Besides the fact that jury members change from year to year, Art in the High Desert uses a blind jury — jurors see only the submitted images, and the associated artist is identified by a number rather than name.
This year’s jury convened in Bend in March to pore over the hundreds of artist submissions. Some readers may recall that in recent years, Art in the High Desert had given the public a look at the jurying process, but this year they decided to save costs, time and trouble and skip the public portion. “We were getting 70, 80 people, but we thought we’d take a break with it,” Fox said. You’ll just have to attend to see the best of what they saw.
They usually get about a dozen local applicants each year, and area artists are well represented in the 2019 show: metalsmith Carla Fox and her singular jewelry, Redmond sculptor Kim Chavez, sculptor and printmaker Danae Bennett-Miller, mosaic artist Kate Kerrigan and Daryll Cox, Jr., who makes elaborate “fusion frames,” in which he combines picture frames to twisted found branches and roots.
The show seems to consistently land a healthy mix of new and returning artists. Though regular attendees will recognize artists and their work, about 50 — almost half — of the artists were not in last year’s show, said Dave Fox.
“They may have been in in the past, but boy, there are several handfuls of people who have never been in the show,” he said. The following are the four criteria the Art in the High Desert jury considers in order to ensure a high caliber of artwork:
• Original thought and intent, going beyond the norm, the expected.
• Overall concept — extending further than just technique and materials.
• Demonstrated excellence in craftsmanship.
• Consistency of style and presentation.
“Because of our jury method, which is pretty unique as well, we’ve been able to really target artists that are professional, and they’re not just good at what they do, but they’re (also) meeting that one objective of ours, which is we want to get people that are pushing it out there,” Fox said. “They’re going beyond what you might typically see as a painter, or as a ceramicist, or as a glass artist. We’re trying to get more of those people, because I think that is just so stimulating for the public when they see that.”