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Art Watch 2/10-2/17



The Oregon WinterFest Fire Pit competition is heating up! Sculptors and metal workers from throughout Oregon have created more than 20 original structures to showcase the beauty and power of fire to light up the banks of the Deschutes River.

"I went really big. I'm having so much fun," says artist James Todd Rouse, who is entering the competition with "Prometheus' Breath."

"Prometheus took fire from the heavens and gave it to man," says Rouse. "This cosmic gift man ran with and harnessed from cave times until now, when fire activates everything, even our computers," he says.

Kellen Bateham, who is the president of the Central Oregon Metal Artists Guild (COMAG), is another one to watch in the competition. His fire pit sculpture "inSPIREd" is in partnership with co-creator Hunter Dahlberg, owner of Orion Forge. Their sculpture is a gas pit and Bateham says it will be large and have tables around it.

Bateham is excited to see creations by Whit Poor, Gustav Sculptor, and Modern Fab, as well as Andy Wachs and Stuart Bradskin, local artists who are often placeholders in the competition.

Rouse, who grew up in Bend, is coming to the competition from Portland. He says he's not sure if he's now an outsider, but his roots are in Central Oregon. "Now I encompass both places," he says. "I'm happy to come back to Bend as the prodigal son to show something I've done in the world."

The WinterFest Fire Pit awards will be determined by three judges and a fourth People's Choice Award will be decided by the public.

In addition to the Fire Pit competition, Bateham says COMAG will have 16 members manning three booths at WinterFest with hands-on jewelry making and a blacksmith for hook-making for a small fee. Proceeds will go to COMAG's scholarship fund. COMAG metal artists will also be helping with the fabrication of the public art sculpture "Love's Lost and Found."

Fire Pit Competition

WinterFest, 344 Shevlin-Hixon Dr., Bend

Festival admission: $10 adv., $12 door

Saturday, Feb. 13, 8 p.m.

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