Bend fiber artist Mary Wonser has been showing her works at the Artists' Gallery Sunriver Village for the past four years, enjoying the company of her fellow artists—all proud to be crafting works made in Central Oregon.
Thirty artists share the gallery space, offering art pieces for sale in the sunny showroom at Sunriver's main shopping outlet. Visitors to the gallery will find glass art, ceramics, textiles, paintings and drawings in a variety of media, as well as jewelry, art to wear and many other creative and useful items.
Wonser keeps four different weaving looms, which she keeps in her Bend home—not counting a very small one she's currently experimenting with.
"That's a photo of one of my husband's paintings," she says while walking me through her space. Wonser cut the photo into thin strips and has them woven through some white yarn on the loom, allowing the creative process to flow for a while before deciding on her next step. The other, larger looms in the home contain various shades and types of yarn for separate projects in progress.
"It's all the artists," Wonser says about the way the cooperative business operates. "We all have shifts at the gallery, and every artist is expected to serve on a committee." The artists share the rent, as well as the responsibility for the various business operations. Wonser keeps the books.
Wonser also travels a bit to show at her favorite art and craft fairs, but says an artist relying on sales to make a living would need to be on the road much more. "Everyone has their ways of doing it, but it takes a lot of work." Wonser says most of the artists at the gallery rely on other sources of income.
"I'm not aggressively trying to build a customer list. I feel the need to create, and the ideas keep coming. I'll go to Portland. There's a studio tour I've done through the years, in June and October. I'm the featured artist at the Sunriver Library in July and August, so I've gotta get some work done. This will be a shawl, this mohair, which is more wintery," she says of a deep sky-blue work in progress on one of her four working looms.
Local stylist Marci Janieson shows greeting cards and postcards at the gallery, featuring prints of the works she has on display at Studio M, her Bend hair salon. "This is a new thing for me. Just within the last year and a half or so I started printing the art. It definitely started to pick up with the printing." Janieson started painting as a hobby, never expecting to earn any money with it.
"I wasn't even trying to sell my paintings. I was just doing it for my own pleasure, then someone suggested that I put it into the form of postcards or prints, and they're selling quite well." Janieson paints scenes from around the city of Bend for the printed cards, also featured at studiombend.com.
While much of Wonser's work has both form and function, some customers balk about the second part.
"I have a lot of customers who don't want to use these dish towels," Wonser explained while showing off some of her more practical pieces. "But they'll last 10 years, they should use them!"
The gallery's next artists' reception will offer light appetizers along with wine and local brews. Guests can nosh and browse while having the opportunity to meet with several of the featured artists. The event is free.
Artists' Gallery Sunriver
Artist reception Saturday, April 14, 4-6pm
57100 Beaver Dr., Sunriver
1293 NW Wall St., Bend