Sisters celebrate art and music

The Big Ponderoo music event is made even more exciting by partnering with Sister Arts, who host an arts walk on the fourth Friday of most months. Art Walks are a fixture on the Sisters cultural scene, growing in popularity while showcasing local, national and international artists.

Gallery walks are becoming a regular destination activity for visitors from across Oregon. Many people arrived on Friday not knowing they would be able to enjoy additional live music in 13 galleries.

Photo by Bill Bartlett

Alicia Viani and Lilli Worona performed at Toriizaka Art last Friday as part of the Ponderoo Art Experience.

It’s not unusual for two or three galleries to include music as an enhancement to the experience, but 13 galleries — “It’s a real joy,” said Merrill Bradshaw of Corvallis.

Her partner Dixie Chalmers added: “We didn’t expect we could fit so much music into a few blocks. And the music was great, really good.”

“It’s a distraction, but I’m glad it’s there,” said Del Foster, of Eugene. His wife, Chris, agreed. “We were worried that we wouldn’t have time to visit every gallery because we found ourselves staying longer at each stop. We were kind of mesmerized by the music.”

Participants described the music in various ways: “soothing”, “magnetic”, and “atmospheric”. Customers detailed how the combination of art forms enhanced the experience for both parties.

“It’s art before music and music before art,” said Jim Bridwell of Medford. His wife, Susan, sees no difference between one and the other. “It’s easy to think of music as a complement to art, but I saw it exactly the opposite. I listened to hours of great music with some really good art in the background.”

Free snacks and drinks are provided at stops along the way.

“By the seventh gallery, I started thinking about canceling my dinner reservation,” quipped Willa Johnson, visiting from McMinnville.

If she did, there would be a waiting list to fill her spot. Every restaurant and bar in town benefits from the partnership, some of which were booked months in advance.

Art Walkers receive a Ponderoo Passport with a map of participating galleries. Passport holders will be stamped at each stop, and those with full passports will receive a Little Yellow Trout, a miniature wood rainbow trout created by Jason Chinchen and Sisters High School Woods II students and decorated by local artists and art lovers decoration.

While most galleries were open until 7pm, hundreds of walkers, drawn by the cornucopia of music and art, headed to Village Green Park’s Big Ponderoo venue for a sneak peek of festival bands The Parnells, The Sam Chase and The Sam Chase’s concert.

Art doesn’t stop at the gallery. The Village Green hosted a community knitting project, fish painting, creative tables and puppet theatre. Most eyes are on the bands that thrill the crowd.

The musical artists in the gallery feature a wide variety of sounds, instruments and songs.

“I thought it was all Western or folk music, and that was ‘Sisters,'” Dorie Simmons of Bend said in surprise. “The music is as eclectic as the art,” adds husband Rolf.

The list of musicians includes student performers from the Sisters of America High School program.

Founded in 2000, the Americana Project is an SFF innovative music and arts education program with broad community impact. This elective music class at Sisters High School provides students with avenues for creative self-expression, including guitar playing, songwriting, performing and recording. Students have the opportunity to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills through the lens of an artist.

Among them is Christie Lower, artist-in-residence at the Pine Meadow Ranch Center for the Arts and Agriculture (PMRCAA).

PMRCAA’s vision is to connect permaculture practices, conservation, art and science with traditional and contemporary crafts and skills integral to ranching life, including metal, glass, wood and leatherwork, ceramics, fibers and textiles, writing, Painting and drawing, photography, film and music.

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