Art in the High Desert: the “unexpected gem” of the art world

By Dusty Trails


Art in the High Desert has been described as the “unexpected gem” of the art fair world. Last year, it was ranked 14th in Greg Lawler’s Fine Art Fair SourceBook–the “bible” of the industry–on a list of over 600 art shows. That means our little show is competing with the likes of Portland’s Art in the Pearl and the La Quinta Art Festival near Palm Springs; large, seasoned events with big budgets in metropolitan areas. What makes it so special?


The quality:

The selection process for these artists is very competitive, and attracts top talent from across the country and Canada for a show of extraordinary quality. Even though the event is only in its 6th year, applications for this year’s show poured in from 28 states and British Columbia in 14 different media categories: 2-D mixed media, metal work, painting, 3-D mixed media, photography, sculpture, ceramics, printmaking, digital art, drawing, wearables, fiber non-wearables, glass, wood, and jewelry. In a two-day marathon session, this year’s four jurors had the daunting task of selecting just over 100 visual artists from the talented pool.


The format:

Because the show is juried, it is one of the few art shows in the country that allows fellow artists and critics to give creators specific feedback on their work. The show was conceived by artists, for artists, accounting for its instant popularity. And as a non-profit, any money that comes out of the festival goes back into the festival and anything left over gets donated to local arts programs.


The location:

This almost goes without saying. What could be better than perusing beautiful fine art on the banks of the Deschutes River? So we’ll see you at the booths across from the Old Mill District from 10-6 Friday and Saturday, and from 10-4 on Sunday to find your new favorite piece of art!

Get your fine art fix in Central Oregon

By Dusty Trails


I’m proud to say that my hometown has been ranked among the best of the best in everything from breweries to ski resorts to cycling. And guess what. We’re nationally ranked for something AGAIN.


Our Art in the High Desert festival was ranked 14th out of the top 25 events for sales of fine art in Greg Lawler’s Fine Art Fair Sourcebook. We are now in the big leagues with other top ranked festivals, such as the La Quinta Arts Festival (#1) near Palm Springs and Portland’s Art in The Pearl (#4). Our show is only five years old and has risen above some of the biggest, oldest art fairs in the country. So we must be doing something right.


The show takes place the weekend before Labor Day weekend at the Old Mill. But if you can’t wait for September to get here for your fix of fine art, our First Friday Art Walks in downtown Bend might be able to hold you over until then. This is when dozens of businesses open up their shops and display local and national art. Many even offer live music, food and wine from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. on the first Friday of every month.


There’s something for everyone when it comes to art and culture in Bend. So while we’re waiting for Art in the High Desert, put on your Patagonia micro-puff and hit the streets of downtown Bend for your monthly dose of acclaimed artwork, awesome food and drink, and an overwhelming sense of community worth its own national recognition.