Art in the High Desert Returns to Bend


(Photo | courtesy of Art in the High Desert)

Art in the High Desert is Central Oregon’s premier juried fine art and craft show. Every year, more than 100 artists flock to the region to have their work shown in this prestigious expo. While hundreds of artists apply each year, the carefully juried selection process ensures that only the best of the best make it in. This year, guests can expect to see over 150 artists across a spectrum of mediums — 2D and 3D mixed media, ceramics, painting, sculptures, woodworking, metalworking and so much more — all showing and selling their work at a picturesque new venue: Riverbend Park in Bend, just outside the Old Mill District.

“This new venue is absolutely beautiful,” said show co-founder Dave Fox. “It really is, and we’re so excited for people to explore booths of amazing art while enjoying the views of the Deschutes River,” added co-founder and Dave’s wife, Carla Fox.

Previously held at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center, this new venue presents tons of opportunity. While last year’s space provided plenty of room and the staff were a joy to work with, the location felt a bit out of the way, according to both artists and patrons to the 2023 show. Wanting to respond effectively to the feedback, Dave and Carla listened and moved the show back to Bend.

The show will be outdoors, utilizing the beautiful Central Oregon sunshine; guests will likely see river floaters passing by, taking advantage of the August weather.

Dave and Carla founded the first Art in the High Desert show back in 2008 and the show ran until the Covid pandemic forced the 2020, 2021 and 2022 shows to cancel. The hiatus was broken with the return of the show in 2023; the same year that the founders took a backseat and invited David Bjurstrom to direct the show. To assist, the show has an experienced board of directors, all of whom are professional artists from a variety of mediums.

The original show was founded with two things in mind: high quality artwork, and the artists themselves. The show is built for and run by artists who understand what it is like to tour across the country and attend shows like these. Dave and Carla are adamant in keeping the original philosophy alive; this show exists by artists, for artists and will always prioritize the wellbeing of the artists.

“Things like live music and other performances will not be present,” said Dave. “As much fun as those things are, and as much as they belong in other shows, we didn’t want to do anything that would take away from the experience of artists showing their art, and interested patrons purchasing art.”

To keep costs as low as possible for the artists, the founders and the board have decided to run the show entirely themselves, as opposed to hiring a production company to manage and market the event. Additionally, Art in the High Desert does not charge commission on sales made by artists.

“That to me is the spirit of teamwork,” Dave said. “We are a bunch of artists who understand that we should be making a show that is as accessible to artists as possible. We obviously need to make some money, but that isn’t really the reason why the show exists.”

The show is carefully juried, and each artist accepted into the show is held to a high standard; the same standard that made Art in the High Desert the tenth ranked art show in the nation for art sales in 2016, 2017 and 2018 by Art Fair Sourcebook.

Dave defines this process as one that only accepts artists who go above and beyond in their medium; whatever their medium might be, the juried process only accepts artists who are pushing their respective mediums to new heights.

During the show, each artist will be at their booth presenting their work. Art in the High Desert does not accept any exhibitors from large production companies, those selling imported items or those buying or selling manufactured goods; the only people selling the art will be the artists who made it.

“This is really a great chance for the guests to come down and connect with the artists a bit,” Dave said. “Talk to them about their work, learn more about what they do and buy from them.”

While this show already features an extremely high standard of quality, Dave and Carla like to award the best of the best with an award they came up with: the Benchmark Award. At the same time, Dave and Carla assert that art is not competitive. Instead, this award is given out for the following criteria; practicing thoughtful and professional presentation to the public, in booth and art; being well prepared for all aspects of the show; upbeat and positive in their work, with the public and with their fellow artists; making an effort to be actively involved with the public during the show; helping others to understand and appreciate the value of art in quality living; showing excellence in their applied art and their work in general.

Dave, Carla, David and the entire board are grateful to be back in Bend, and have expressed their gratitude in a joint statement, “We thank both Bend Parks and Recreation and the Old Mill District, who have been phenomenal to work with as we work to bring this event back to the heart of Bend.”

Art in the High Desert 2024 will take place at Riverbend Park from August 23-25. The Friday showing goes from 6pm to 9pm, while Saturday and Sunday run during the day.


About Author

Leave A Reply