The oil painting "Rising Above the High Desert" is a grand testimony to the contrasts in the Central Oregon landscape; a wide painting that stretches a panoramic view, the horizon is a field toasted golden, yet spiked with green trees here and there. The heat almost glows from the painting. But then there is the cool, cloud-filled sky and a snow-lined mountain filling up the background; like the hot days and cool nights, the difference between the two primary elements of Janice Druian's painting fit together for a sum greater than their individual parts.
It is one of 60 works of art presented by the High Desert Museum's annual "Art of the West" program, a collection of paintings and artworks that capture and illustrate the beauty of western states like Oregon—and, in particular, that articulate the particular and peculiar images and icons of Central Oregon. All told, more than 35 artists had works accepted as part of the show—more than doubling the size from previous years.
It is a wonderful collection that gathers different viewpoints and feelings about the landscape and people who collectively make us what is called "the west," a title that evokes big skies, cowboys, Native Americans, cacti, and mountains. Some of the pieces focus more on details within the landscape, rather than sweeping vistas; like, an oil painting from David Marty that shows a demur red barn; a deep blue sky peaks from behind the barn's gray roof and casts a small trim of a shadow. Fran Kievet painting, "Native Rhythms," is blurred with motion and a block print from Vicki Shuck, "At The Otley Ranch" is less literal, balancing black and white between a shadowy figure (a farmer?) and a blank field.
The show includes some new artists, but many familiar artists, like Kathy Deggendorfer (the Source's artist of the month in June), who paints modern folk images; blocky, colorful, and dynamic scenes that frame hectic images from RV and camping sites.
All told, the show is a kaleidoscope of styles and images that together help articulate what "the west" means, and how it looks.
There is an artists' reception, 6-8 pm, Thursday, July 30. Artists Dawn Emerson, Marjorie Kalama, and Gil Dellinger will present demonstrations inspired by the museum's wildlife, artifacts, and objects. $5 for non-members.