Creativity in The High Desert
by Sabina Dana Plasse
Long before Bend became infiltrated with city dwellers seeking the best of Central Oregon’s skiing, biking, and outdoor lifestyle, its natural beauty and earthiness attracted artists. As more urbanites move in from Seattle and California, Bend’s contemporary art scene reflects that growth also. WHJ takes pride in curating a variety of artists and galleries to help you build your collection.
In this feature we’ll examine these artists and galleries who call Bend home:
- David Kreitzer – a celebrated painter whose work is included in the private collections of Michael Douglas, Mary Tyler Moore, the Howard Ahmansons, Robert Takken, and the Hind Foundation
- Weld Design Studio – a multidisciplinary studio combining sculpture with architectural metal fabrication
- Mockingbird Gallery and Peterson Contemporary Art Gallery – a destination for exhibitions and rotating collections.
A Contemporary Realist
David Kreitzer Finds Beauty in All Aspects of Life
American painter David Kreitzer has an extraordinary body of work that spans more than five decades, and it is a detailed representation of his own belief of how art heals and allows him to communicate that healing to the world. With several series of works, Kreitzer has produced a unique realism style that defines him as a distinguished contemporary artist. Having spent 40 years living on California’s central coast, Kreitzer now makes Bend, Oregon, his home where he continues to enjoy being a working artist.
When Kreitzer focuses on his subject matter, he becomes completely immersed in it. He has often spent several years painting in one area of interest, allowing him to produce a vast series of works on it. “I will do oils and watercolors but not at the same time,” says Kreitzer. “Each medium requires a different approach and the selection of subjects is crucial.”
“Kreitzer demonstrates how much poetic intensity the old tradition can still contain.”
–Thomas Albright, San Francisco Chronicle
Examples of this are found in David’s stunning water paintings. He describes water as the ultimate painting problem, presenting four realities, which include the surface, reflection, the subject, and depth of the river, lake, or pond. “It’s much more than reproducing the image,” he says. “It’s the departure from the “reality” of the source to the new reality of the painting.”
Starting out in San Francisco in the late 1960s, Kreitzer worked at a nightclub in North Beach to get through graduate school. He painted after-hours nightclub characters, which became his master’s thesis, and it landed him representation in the former Maxwell Galleries in San Francisco. A review of his first solo show (which sold out) by Thomas Albright in the San Francisco Chronicle states, “Kreitzer demonstrates how much poetic intensity the old tradition can still contain.”
Kreitzer moved to Marin County and found himself painting landscapes. Represented by Ankrum Gallery in Los Angeles, he was included in several shows spanning more than a decade. “Nobody becomes as successful or famous as they intend to be, but I cannot complain at all,” he says.
“Kreitzer demonstrates how much poetic intensity the old tradition can still contain.”
–Thomas Albright, San Francisco Chronicle
“Art can dramatically alter our awareness and perception of a place,” Hagg says. “Whether we realize it or not, that which surrounds us on a daily basis silently dictates our movements, our emotions, and our sense of place. Art holds an incredible amount of power in its raw, untethered ability to revel in the beauty, complex nature, and possibilities of this world.”
Echo Arts provides a variety of services, including collaboration with industry professionals and personal collectors to provide comprehensive plans for art procurement and installation; site assessment and structural, aesthetic, and cultural considerations; budget management for art procurement, fabrication, installation, and care over time; an extensive artist database and curated selection for specific project proposals; overseeing conceptual design proposals; contracting for development and oversight from inception to conclusion of a project; guidance regarding insurance and long-term care; artwork cataloguing, labels, and temporary exhibitions; and coordinated delivery with professional installation.
“It’s through discipline that you focus, concentrate, and work. It’s what gives the painting life.”
What follows in Kreitzer’s career is a multitude of gallery exhibitions and representation across the country in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Denver, Carmel, Dallas, and Seattle, including solo shows and works in private and public collections. He has also had numerous published posters and has received several important commissions and awards. Kreitzer’s work has appeared on two covers for The Atlantic magazine, and he was also a featured artist in the American Artist magazine and The Sacred Landscape book. In addition, he has been included on the prestigious published lists in Who’s Who in American Art, Who’s Who in California, and Who’s Who in America. Kreitzer’s collectors include Michael Douglas, Mary Tyler Moore, the Howard Ahmansons, Robert Takken, and the Hind Foundation, among many others.
As a realist, Kreitzer will take on very sophisticated subjects for his paintings. With an illusion of reality, he works to lure the viewer and capture your attention as if you are enjoying the motion of fish, a pond, a river, ocean waves, or a breeze on a warm summer’s day. His connection to nature and its effect on human existence is subtle but meaningful and healing, which has always been his intent. Kreitzer uses the canvas space and light to allow for an expression of shadows. The water, forest, hills, koi, vineyards, and figures he has created are an attraction to his subjects, as people or places you would like to often visit or see every day because of the instant gratification they offer. This is Kreitzer’s ability to paint in the tradition of the Old Masters.
Kreitzer’s approach and method is realistic and accessible to the viewer, providing a type of fascination where a sky can easily be imagined and becomes impressionistic. You can see brush strokes as a chop in the water changes, as you step back to imagine the water as it is. The same is true for Kreitzer’s landscapes that appear heavy with air and dry ground, capturing the feeling of being inland from the central coast of California, whether it’s the oak hills or the vineyards.
His homage to Central Oregon begins with the painting chosen by the Sunriver Music Festival as its poster image for 2021. The image is titled “Sunriver Ripples” and is an impressive example of the play of light on water.
Kreitzer’s Tristan and Isolde and Siegfried posters, commissioned by Seattle Opera in 1981, are collected worldwide and contributed to the Seattle Opera’s success. His fascination with the music of Richard Wagner led Kreitzer to meet wife Jacalyn, a mezzo-soprano who sang Wagnerian roles in “Des Ring der Nibelungen” in Berlin, Los Angeles, Barcelona, Paris, and the Metropolitan Opera. Kreitzer’s fantastical “Ring” paintings offer another perspective to his painterly expression and reach.
“Art is that non-visual sensation you get from looking at a painting,” says Kreitzer. “It’s through discipline that you focus, concentrate, and work. It’s what gives the painting life. Art is meditative, and it’s as meditative to do as to see it.”
From the intensity of still life, florals, figures, and water scenes to Central Oregon land-scapes, Kreitzer has always wanted to capture as much as possible within his work. “Art is like learning a language, a visual language,” says Kreitzer. “You can’t just know the verbs—you must learn it all.”
Weld Design Studio:
Contemporary Furniture, Decor, and Fine Art
The welding, sculpture, and design talents of Andrew Wachs are far-reaching. With an innate sense of spatial design and construct, Wachs has the ability and talent to create a broad selection of contemporary furniture along with art pieces, installations, and environmental design works. His design for almost any space, interior or exterior, is unique and exceptional with inspiration drawn from nature and life.
Wachs is an owner of Weld Design Studio, a multi-disciplinary art fabrication studio established in 2005 and located in Bend with a design office in Portland. Wachs brings a collaborative experience in sculpture, metal fabrication, and design with architectural designer, Dylan Woock. For the Pacific Northwest, Wachs’ understanding of the landscape and its diversity allows him to produce form and function products as well as fine art with a purpose. The integrity of his work is foremost and can be seen from his heirloom Americana-inspired furniture to large-scale public artworks. His work includes private art commissions, architectural projects, and also in his very popular fire tables and pits.
“My interest has always been to cross the disciplines of fine art with functional design.”
With a conscious decision to be multi-versed, Wachs has created his own unique and notable style. “I create many products along with the furniture and other commission pieces,” he says. “But I enjoy creating heirloom pieces intended to live for generations. My fire pieces are built for a lifetime, and the burner systems and equipment will last longer than I will.”
As more people discover the small towns of the West, the appreciation and need for designing outdoor living spaces have increased—a niche that Wachs can accommodate. In particular, Wachs’ Artifact Series Fire Table, hand-crafted from steel, is designed to fulfill the needs of those living in planned, outside areas, which can accommodate propane or natural gas fittings.
“It is a firepit design with an architectural component,” says Wachs. “The fire structure design as function allows it to be multi-functional year-round as a table when not being used for a fire. This is a Weld Design Studio product that I manufacture and it is a signature piece for me.”
In a design for the Hanai Foundation’s building in Bend, to open in summer 2021, Wachs created large hanging light fixtures in line with the Foundation’s concept of a sacred community space. Five fixtures inspired by a hexagon design are in place and reveal Wachs’ ability to design within concept but also craft and weld with simplicity and beauty. These large hanging light sculptures not only fill space but also offer a focal point that is in principle with the Hanai Foundation. “The concept of the building is based on sacred geometry also known as the Golden Ratio,” says Wachs. “It is a mathematical ratio commonly found in nature, and when used in a design, it fosters organic and natural-looking compositions that are aesthetically pleasing to the eye.” Wachs’ design is fluid and does not compete with the architecture but accents it appropriately. “It has been an interesting departure to do these types of light fixtures,” he says. “I’m a one-person operation but I do collaborate with other artists and craftspeople whose different talents and skillsets merge together with mine.”
A Portland native, Wachs had visited Bend his entire life and in 1994/5 moved to Bend to work as a welder. Seeking more opportunity, Wachs moved to San Francisco from Bend and worked for Móz Designs based in Oakland, which had large corporate clients. “I cut my teeth on high-end fabrication and really learned how to build,” says Wachs. Leaving the Bay Area for Seattle, Wachs worked for Dillon Works and eventually found his way back to Bend in 2002 where he worked as a blacksmith for Ponderosa Forge. Three years later, he opened Weld Design Studio. “With a network of people, projects came forth, and I was able to expand to furniture and design. My interest has always been to cross the disciplines of fine art with functional design.”
A common thread throughout all of Wachs’ work whether fine art, environmental installation, or public art, is its functional aspect. One notable Wachs piece, which he created with Erik Gerding, is Ghost, a commission from the property developer for the roundabout at the Old Mill. Ghost is a decommissioned crane dredge bucket used on the Deschutes River in the 1940s. “It’s a sculpture in the round, and it’s a true narrative,” says Wachs. “It’s a ghost because it’s a story of a past relic, but it’s composed as a storyline as a ghost of the past or coming back as a sculpture. About 80 percent of the material for Ghost is repurposed.”
“The concept of the building is based on sacred geometry also known as the Golden ratio. It is a mathematical ratio commonly found in nature, and when used in a design, it fosters organic and natural-looking compositions that are aesthetically pleasing to the eye.”
But perhaps the piece that is closest to Wachs’ soul is a hunting perch for the Kingfisher bird. The sculpture project was a collaborative effort with desiger Dylan Woock. “The species was disrupted in the riparian area during a development project at the Colorado Bridge. The master plan specified a perch for the Kingfisher bird to hunt. When the piece was installed, the following day a Kingfisher was using it. It’s an elusive bird, and I could not believe it was there. I never felt more satisfied as an artist, especially at my first attempt at habitat art.”
As you look deeper into Weld Design Studio projects, you will discover that there’s much more to Wachs, who has been producing works and creating his own niche in the world of contemporary and high-end welding and fine art metal works for many years. He says, “Great design speaks for itself and sculpture is my passion. To cross over with both is my ultimate aesthetic but it’s also important that it all works in harmony.”
Tapping into Fine Art
With Mockingbird Gallery and Peterson Contemporary Art Gallery
Despite lockdowns and a change in business protocols due to the global pandemic, Bend gallery owner Jim Peterson has found that the desire for fine art is quite extraordinary. As owner of Mockingbird Gallery and Peterson Contemporary Art Gallery (PCA), Peterson has seen an increasing demand for original fine art in the Bend area and beyond.
“It’s believable because clients and art collectors have been focused on situations that they are able to maintain control over, including redesigning their interiors or inhabiting a new dwelling, which people have been able to do despite the frustration of the pandemic,” says Peterson. “We’ve found that people are very excited about collecting and buying art as they complete improvements to their homes, and we’ve been very fortunate to be allowed into this process.”
Peterson attributes some of the exceedingly good business, in part, due to the fact that Bend is a very desirable destination, as people have moved from cities to Central Oregon’s wilder and more spacious environs. “We happen to fit into the scenario,” he says. “There’s a great deal to do and it’s progressive. As people settle into their new homes, they are eager to establish their design path and start their art collections. There’s a great deal to say about the creative vision for placing fine art in one’s home or business and seeing where it lands and ultimately where it belongs.”
Not only have Peterson’s two galleries become important in the lives of Bend’s new homeowners and for those who are redecorating and designing, but Peterson has also discovered that following through on marketing ideas has produced returns beyond his practical intentions. “In 2020 during the height of the pandemic, we produced a stellar catalogue marketing our 30th anniversary show and sent it out to our entire mailing list,” he explains. “The response was overwhelming, and the gallery sold 70 percent of its July show.” This summer, Mockingbird Gallery will create another mailed catalogue for artist Ron Hicks, who will have a solo show, Ordinary People, in August.
With the ability to reach out to his audience through an in-hand catalogue along with a well-designed digital newsletter, Peterson inspired many a loyal client, art collector, art lover, and art admirer to visit the galleries. “Art buyers and collectors are operating from a purely emotional and personal place. When you fall in love with a work of art, part of it is the mystery and enjoyment of visualizing where it may end up, on display in your home or office, and what it will add, overall, to the aesthetics,” he says.
Peterson will take the time to visit his clients’ homes with a van full of art, whether it’s in Portland, Seattle, or somewhere in Central Oregon. “We have no issue bringing art to one of our serious collectors,” he says. “It’s a service we provide and, most often, all the art ends up staying. I love an adventure and my clients love it when their art dealer shows up. Once I’m at a client’s home, I have a sense of what they want and like, and they know I am always seeking special pieces on their behalf.”
“Art buyers and collectors are operating from a purely emotional and personal place. When you fall in love with a work of art, part of it is the mystery and enjoyment of visualizing where it may end up, on display in your home or office, and what it will add, overall, to the aesthetics.”
Representing nearly 80 established artists between the Mockingbird Gallery and Peterson Contemporary Art Gallery allows for a wide variety and well-balanced approach towards providing art buyers with what they may be seeking. “The combined platform has allowed us to lure in some of the nation’s top talents and assure them quality representation in the process. It’s one of our greatest and most fulfilling challenges to connect it all,” says Peterson. “Between the two galleries, we have the ability to service and provide art interests in contemporary art as well as in traditional regional and national art.”
As a contemporary art gallery, PCA Gallery is able to provide work to satisfy the new modern or mountain contemporary home design that has become part of the Central Oregon landscape. “We had it in mind to find another space to offer a contemporary art option in Bend and we were able to do so about four and half years ago. Having our two spaces, one block apart, is convenient and fun for the shoppers, and it’s not unusual for us to walk between galleries with clients,” says Peterson. “PCA has been received well in the area by both locals and tourists. It’s absolutely allowed us to address a need in the local market. We like to call it our alter ego.”
Bridging the gap between the two galleries has been a part of Peterson’s overall desire to provide clients and collectors with an array of fine art to accommodate them. “When we seek out the very best artists and develop solid relationships, our job becomes easier,” he says. “In turn, it contributes towards building stronger and more trusting relationships with clients and collectors. When people connect through art, it cultivates relationships and communicates beauty and joy, whether you are an art buyer or art lover.”
2021 Summer Show Schedule
April 2-April 30
Jack Braman and Bart Walker
G. Russell Case, Marc R. Hanson,
John W. Taft, and Eric G. Thompson
Moments of Stillness
Steven Lee Adams and
July 2- July 31
Times and Seasons
David Dibble and Gary Ernest Smith
Dan Chen and Troy Collins
Peterson Contemporary Art Gallery (PCA)
Shar Coulson, Korey Gulbrandson,
and Rand Scot Smithey
Christian Burchard, and Tyler Swain
Donald Yatomi, Valerie Winterholler,
and Ken Roth
869 NW Wall Street, Suite 100
Bend | 541.388.2107
Peterson Contemporary Art Gallery (PCA)
206 NW Oregon Ave, Suite 1
Bend | 541.633.7148