Cameron Kaseberg Fine Art

A visual feast
Artists set up shop at The Old Mill for the return of Art in the High Desert
By Eleanor Pierce / The Bulletin
Published: August 28. 2009 4:00AM PST

This weekend, Art in the High Desert will bring more than 100 artists from around the country to The Old Mill District in Bend to show and sell original arts and crafts (see "If you go").

Booths filled with art will line the west river bank, across the footbridge from Anthony's at the Old Mill. Artists will present everything from 2- and 3-D mixed media, ceramics, fiber art, paintings, jewelry, glass, photography, sculpture and wood crafts, plus the artists will be on hand to talk about what they do.

One of the founders of the festival, Dave Fox, said that while the quality of the art is high, most artists at the festival will have some items for sale that are affordable for a beginning collector.

Cameron Kaseberg, who moved to Redmond from The Dalles in February, participated in the juried show last year and will return this weekend. Last year's show was both the first Art in the High Desert event and Kaseberg's first ever art festival.

Not only did he have success with art sales, but he enjoyed meeting and talking with patrons, and he was awarded a Benchmark award, which recognizes artists at the festival who demonstrate proactive, positive engagement with the public.

"It got me hooked," Kaseberg said. "It was a great experience. I was on kind of a natural high for a couple of weeks afterward."

Kaseberg, 46, works in mixed media on paper, using a process he calls solvent transfer.

He uses different solvents to pull images, sometimes from photographs he's taken or graphics he's designed, and applies them in layers to a separate piece of paper. His current series has an almost ghostly feel, with subtle colors and sparse design.

Since showing his work at Art in the High Desert last year, Kaseberg has participated in a number of art festivals around the country, including the Scottsdale Art Festival in Arizona and the Fiesta Art Fair in San Antonio. He's met many artists at these shows and said that Art in the High Desert already has an excellent reputation among artists.

"For the first year, they really set the bar high for themselves, and they made it," he said.

The art show is the brainchild of Dave and Carla Fox, who are artists themselves. She's a jeweler and he makes custom glass.

The couple has owned property in Central Oregon for more than 35 years, but moved to Alfalfa full time in 2000. For a number of years, the couple thought about how they could use some of their time and experience to add to the local art scene.

Dave Fox said that they were impressed by a lot of local arts activities: an active local theater community, BendFilm, The Nature of Words and the Sunriver Music Festival. But, he said, "it seemed like there was a gap in terms of the fine arts." While the galleries were established, they saw room for more attention to fine art.

Fox had served for eight years on the board of Art in the Pearl, an annual juried art show in Portland's swanky Pearl District, and he decided to put his experience to work for Bend by creating a nonprofit art festival. He and his wife began assembling a support system for the festival.

In addition to being nonprofit (the Foxes are volunteers), Art in the High Desert has a few distinctions that differentiate it from other street fairs and art shows. One is the unusual way the jury process works.

For Art in the High Desert, artists who are interested in having a booth at the show submit an application, with a fee, and four photos of their work. That part is standard.

But this festival's jury is "blind," meaning that the work they review is not identified by the artist's name or location. Additionally, the four members of the jury, all artists themselves, were given all of the applications for review three weeks before they met in April to make selections. Most of the time, juries don't get to preview materials.

Dave Fox said he thinks their process ensures high quality work, and that it's more fair to the artists — something that Art in the High Desert takes very seriously, down to booth placement. For instance, wearable-fiber artists are given shady booths so that patrons will feel comfortable trying items on without overheating. Likewise, jewelers tend to prefer booths that face east, so that their jewelry doesn't get too hot to try on in the afternoons.

The festival also gives feedback on rejected applications for a $5 fee.

"Some artists don't like it once they ask for it, and other artists say it's the best $5 they'd spent in 20 years," Carla Fox said.

Fox encouraged everyone to attend Art in the High Desert, not just serious art collectors.

There will be food available at A Taste of the Old Mill, across the footbridge from the festival, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Students from the Americana Project, part of the Sister's Folk Festival, will play music throughout the weekend's festivities, as well.

"It's very personable. The artists are there because they like talking about their art," she said. "They like talking with people, they like laughing, it's warm. It's just fun. Plus it's a real visual feast."

Eleanor Pierce can be reached at 541-617-7828 or