Every six months, Visit Bend chooses one local artist to create unique chalk drawings on the cement pillars in the Visitor Center lobby. The artist also has his or her framed work displayed and sold in the Visitor Center for the duration of his or her show. It’s part of the Pillars of Art program, which was created to introduce tourists to Bend’s unique arts and culture scene, and to support emerging local artists.
The newest Pillars of Art creator is Avlis Leumas. For his Pillars of Art installment, Avlis crafted a delightful collection of superheroes depicted in front of Central Oregon landmarks and landscapes. This brightly-colored exhibit is proving particularly popular with young children.
You can see his work at the Bend Visitor Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can also drop by after 5 p.m. during First Friday Art Walk on December 5 when the Visitor Center will be open late.
We caught up with Avlis recently and asked a few questions about his art, his life, and everything in between. Here’s what he shared with us:
Visit Bend: Where did you grow up, and how did you end up in Bend?
Avlis: I grew up in the Bay Area and spent 30 years there before leaving for Bend. When I was a child, my family would spend weekends working on a home near Lake Tahoe. The plan was to eventually move there, but my father passed away when I was in eighth grade and things changed. I always envisioned going back to the mountains; we found Bend in 2004 and put an offer on a home the second day we were here.
Visit Bend: Tell us about your artistic training.
Avlis: Nothing formal—a couple art classes in the two high schools I attended. Other than that, I grew up collecting comic books because the art was fascinating, dynamic, and told a story. I tried for years to emulate that style and finally gave up on art my junior year of high school to play bass in a band. It was a better fit for me at the time.
Visit Bend: How would you describe your artistic style?
Avlis: I don’t know, perhaps comic-pop art. I like hard, defined lines that create movement. It took a long time to figure out how to bring movement into a piece and not have it look stiff or rigid. Once you understand that approach, it’s hard to define what it is, but you know it is happening because it comes out effortlessly.
Visit Bend: What’s your favorite medium?
Avlis: I love pencil sketches over anything because they show that intangible place where imagination and intuition sync up with creative expression. It’s a map of connection with our highest consciousness; it’s creativity’s dwelling place coming into manifestation in its most raw form.
Visit Bend: Who are your artistic influences?
Visit Bend: What do you like best about living in Bend, and how does it influence your artistic style?
Avlis: Freedom from chaos. I felt this every day during my final years in the Bay Area. It feels timeless here; almost like I moved to Neverland. I’m not sure how it influences my artistic style, but it did cause me to pick up the pencil again after almost 20 years. I can say I love the art community and how much everyone supports each other’s work.
Visit Bend: What do you enjoy doing in Bend when you’re not creating art?
Avlis: I have been an instructor at COCC for almost seven years and love it so much. When I’m not there, I love being with my wife and son—we spend time with friends/family, but just being out in Bend. It’s nice to leave Central Oregon too, but you know you’re in the right place when it feels good to be home each time.
Avlis: The Bend art scene is incredible! There is so much talent in this little city and everyone’s style is so different. I think the pillars are great because the medium of chalk and the confined canvas of a pillar forces the creative process to manifest in a very different way than the artist is used to—it’s brilliant!
DON’T FORGET! Stop by the Bend Visitor Center on the corner of Lava and Oregon in Downtown Bend to check out this great collection of artwork by Alvis. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can also drop by during First Friday Art Walk after 5 p.m. on Friday, December 5.
To check out his art online, visit http://avlis-leumas.com/