The glow of accomplishments well done still radiates from Suite E at 16930 Main Street. Volunteers were busy putting away the set-up from the big celebration on Sept. 24 when Artists of the High Desert had their annual professionally judged competition and gallery show. Overall, 104 entries were submitted this year. The fine art was judged by notable professionals from the Artists of the Inland Empire association who critiqued and evaluated the entries.
The nonprofit organization began as the Hesperia Art Club in 1965 as the creation of Eloise Boyer, Estelle Holmes, Evelyn Kenny, Beth Lanegan and Mary Philips who met at an art class at Victor Valley College. From the very beginning, they drew more members and soon expanded to the Lime Street Park and later to the Hesperia Grange and Apple Valley. But with its return to Hesperia, the art club has doubled in size.
I've visited the current facility near the Sizzler restaurant and met with volunteer members. The walls are lined with member and student paintings; and every two months, a member artist is featured. Displaying fine art in store front windows reminds me of art shown in old town Pasadena. The city of Pasadena made win-win arrangements with merchants in Old Pasadena requesting that whenever a store is vacated, the windows are used to showcase the works of local artists. Patrons of the arts have such an opportunity to examine local art in the windows of Artists of the High Desert whenever they are shopping at nearby stores or dining on Main Street.
But for members of Artists of the High Desert, it's not all about showing and competing. In the back of their suite is an artist at work environment, used for classes and workshops. Classes are offered each day of the week for adults; children are able to learn from the experts on Wednesdays. For this year, the big annual blue ribbon event is over except for the memories and the accolades.
The most recent major arts event in the High Desert, "Art at the Aspen" set up by American Association of University Women's (AAUW) Art Show took place last weekend. The two-day fundraiser featured fine art paintings in oil, watercolor, and acrylics, as well photography and crafts in pottery, gourd carvings, glass works, jewelry, and woodwork. Hesperia residents were well represented by local artists Wayne Sheets and his glass art, Gay Jacobsen's beading, Joyce Smith's mixed media and Jim and Joan Van Auken's pottery.
I've attended the AAUW Art Show in past years and always highly recommend them. The setting at the Aspen Clubhouse in Del Webb's Apple Valley Sun City is lovely, the art is well displayed, and the event is well attended. It's a wonderful place to find and purchase that just right piece of art for your home or to leisurely peruse the rooms of the Aspen as you would an art gallery — to feed the artistic part of your soul with beauty and inspiration. But at "Art at the Aspen" you also have opportunity to meet the artists themselves and learn about their work. Jessie Oswald's oil "The Heavenly Touch" which placed first in the Artists of the High Desert competition in September was not up for sale at the Aspen. Jessie tells me that although she wasn't going to display in the Apple Valley event this year, one of her paintings will be auctioned off later to benefit the AAUW scholarship fund.
The AAUW portion of the proceeds and the $10 donation at the door go to their foundation scholarship fund. Each year, AAUW has a competition to grant a scholarship to an exceptional local young woman who will be entering the field of mathematics or science. It's a win-win-win situation for the High Desert.