Like many others in Central Oregon, I am squeezing the last drops of summer out of the season before Labor Day. The second annual Art in the High Desert happened last weekend in Bend and I was lucky enough to stumble across it. Artists from all over the Pacific Northwest gathered in Bend under white tents filled with every medium of fine art filling the grass opposite the river at the Old Mill Shopping district. I meandered, as one is meant to do on a sunny day through a field of fine art, just taking it all in and gathering inspiration. I love community events in Bend because such diverse groups of people emerge for any sunny afternoon’s activity.

There were tents of brilliant photographs capturing details like peeling paint up close and intensified enough to be a stunning composition, glass work of all shapes and sculptures depicting whimsical characters with elongated bodies; there was handcrafted furniture that were sculptures in and of themselves and fanciful paintings of every genre and style imaginable. Jewelry, pottery and interesting techniques such as one artist’s wax tiles with sticks and seed-pods pressed into geometric designs and left in the finished product attracted quite a crowd.

I loved every minute of it! The artist in me was captivated by colors, textures and creative concepts of art. I love that art truly shows that people see the world differently, some see dark, others light, some life-like and others wildly imaginative. It’s an incredible community builder. Watching diverse groups of people gather around art to ask questions about an artist’s inspiration, style and how long they have been perfecting their craft is an incredible reflection of our natural appreciation for beauty, creativity, uniqueness and diversity.

But the best part of the whole thing? Sunday morning I received a phone call that I had won the previous day’s gift certificate to come back to the festival and pick a piece of art to my choosing. I strolled through again looking for just the right piece and came home with an adorable print of a batik, painted fabric, by contemporary American Batik artist, Lisa Telling Kattenbraker. You can find her beautiful batiks at Mark your calendars for next summer as this wonderful art show will most likely be back in Bend for a third year!

Sarah McMurray is a wanderlust, a hopeful romantic, an artist, a writer and a passionate connoisseur of coffee and culture. She holds a BA from Seattle Pacific University and has been transitioning from higher education to the non-profit sector. Currently she resides in Bend, Oregon where she feels she is the luckiest girl in the world to call herself a native.

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