Past the Coolers, Up the Stairs: Tew Boots Gallery takes art to the second level | Art Watch | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

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Past the Coolers, Up the Stairs: Tew Boots Gallery takes art to the second level


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Through the Bond Street Market's door, past the buzzing coolers and the bottles of beer and soda they dutifully keep cool, there's a hairpin turn that leads up a staircase lined on one side by a row of ascending paintings, some featuring the increasingly recognizable iconography of emerging Bend artist Alex Reisfar. At the top of the stairs on most days, or at least afternoons and evenings, you'll find Annie Shininger and her Tew Boots Gallery.

On an inversion-dampened afternoon, Shininger is in her second-level gallery looking over the current works on display through her distinctively vintage cat-eyed glasses. My Morning Jacket's "One Big Holiday" emanates from speakers on Shininger's desk, bouncing off the art-covered walls of the cozy albeit small space, as she takes a second to reflect on the current state of Bend's art scene.

"There's a lot of budding talent in this town," she says, tapping the floor with one of her trademark platform boots that earned her the nickname "Tew Boots," which now serves as the moniker for her gallery.

"It was never dead, and a lot of [the art] was well done, but, well, I'm sick of seeing bison," she says with a smile.

There are no bison, or eagles or mountains or any of the ambiguous "mountain art" that for so long dominated Bend's gallery scene to be found at Tew Boots. But there are several animals to be found at Tew Boots - a toad, a buck, a hummingbird - all done by local painter Nicole Samples. The colors are vibrant, and the figures pop off their mostly bright backgrounds. Then there's another animal to be found in the gallery. It's a devilish-looking pig held in the arms of a hauntingly slender young girl.

This particular painting is one of Shininger's own that she's working on in the rear of the gallery, where she can be found painting late into most evenings. Shininger's oftentimes delightfully spooky pieces have been featured on the cover of the Source several times, including this week's issue. In a storage room next to the gallery space, Shininger reveals off a massive stack of her own paintings, one of which is a slightly spooky cow on a canvas that's at least six-feet wide. In terms of Bend's art landscape, her dark style hasn't always fit in.

"I've been rejected so many times because, I guess, my work was inappropriate or maybe not up to par. But now, I want to provide a formula for people whose art is indeed up to par so they can show their work," says Shininger of her inclusive yet high-quality approach, which has brought in the work of several local painters, jewelry makers and sculptors, as well as Rise Up clothing, since she opened up in August.

Shininger, in the middle of discussing her gallery, points a booted toe at a miniscule blemish in the gray carpet.

"It's still not perfect. But it's looking a lot better than it was before," she says, perhaps unaware that most eyes that enter the gallery will be fixated on the walls and the art they hold rather than the floor.

The 34-year-old Shininger was raised in Salt Lake, then headed to Massachusetts with her family before arriving at the University of Montana. She then studied art in Ireland before eventually landing in Portland at the turn of the millennium and finally arriving in Bend in 2004. The Tew Boots Gallery is the next artistic step for Shininger, who says the gallery is still in the process of finding it's place in the Bend art scene.

"People might be like, 'What the hell? I have to walk past the coolers to get there?'" she says, "But people are surprised when they get up here - it's a fun little adventure."

Tew Boots Gallery

920 NW Bond St., on the second level of the Bond St. Market.

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