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Kimberly Costa-Stearns is the newest Pillars of Art contributor

Pillars of Art in the Bend Oregon Visitor Center

Since 2011, people have marked up the walls of the Bend Visitor Center, but they aren’t vandals.

They’re artists commissioned to create unique chalk art on the cement pillars in the lobby of the Bend Visitor Center. It’s part of the Pillars of Art program, and Visit Bend just unveiled the newest creator.

The new Pillars of Art featured artist is Kimberly Costa-Stearns. An East Coast native, Kimberly came to Bend after college to work as an art educator.

Kimberly’s art will be on display in the Bend Visitor Center for the next 12 months, including several pieces for sale. We caught up with her recently and asked a few questions about art, her life, and everything in between. Here’s what she shared.

Where did you grow up and how did you land in Bend?

I grew up on the East Coast, in Phoenix, Maryland.  After graduating from college, I moved to Bend to live with a teacher friend.  Soon after moving to Bend, I got my first teaching job at Jefferson County Middle School, in Madras.

Tell us about your artistic training

I received my Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree at James Madison University, in Virginia. After graduating, I continued my education and got my teaching certification in Art education, K-12.

How would you describe your artistic style?

My style is composed of simplistic landscapes, with several layers of texture in the foreground and background. I add texture in the mountains and trees, using crumpled tissue paper. Then, I paint over it in acrylic paint.  I often use overlapping strips of colored tissue paper to create the ripples in the water.

Pillars of Art at the Visitor Center in Bend, OR

Kimberly Costa-Stearns at work on one of the pillars at the Bend Visitor Center.

What’s your favorite medium?

My favorite medium is acrylic paint on canvas. I spent many years, throughout college, working with watercolors and then switched to acrylics about 15 years ago.

Who are your artistic influences?    

My artistic influences are Betty LaDuke and Henri Matisse.  They have inspired me through their use of bright colors and simple shapes.  After college, I slowly developed my own unique style, adding texture and collage techniques to the background and foreground.

What do you like best about living in Bend, and how does it influence your artistic style?

I love living in Bend because of the beautiful surrounding landscapes, the hiking, the camping, and all of the festivities.  The abundance of nature in Bend, especially the Cascade Mountains, inspires me to paint regularly. I often take pictures while we’re hiking or camping, then I do a painting from my photograph.  

Artwork by Kimberly Costa-Stearns

Artwork by Kimberly Costa-Steans on display at the Bend Visitor Center.

Can you tell us about the inspiration and ideas behind your Pillars of Art contribution?

I was inspired by the beauty that surrounds us in Central Oregon every day, from the aspen groves in Shevlin Park to the Ponderosa trees in the Deschutes National Forest.  The Cascade Mountains inspired my work on the pillars as well. I used bright, vivid colors in the mountains to draw attention to the pillars.

What do you enjoy doing in Bend when you’re not creating art?

My family and I like to hike and camp during the summer and fall.  In the winter we go snowshoeing and cross-country skiing with friends.  We have two kids, Luca (8) and Isabella (11). We also bring our three year old Golden Retriever, Nala, on all of our adventures together.  

What’s your impression of the Bend art scene, and how do you think the Pillars of Art program fits with that?

The Bend art scene has some great programs like the first Friday Art walk and art in public spaces, such as the Tin Pan Alley Art collection, and art in all of the roundabouts throughout town. The Pillars of Art is a great program that creates an opportunity for a local artist to display his or her art in Visit Bend and to show her creativity through chalk murals for the community to see.  

Artwork by Kimberly Costa-Stearns

Artwork on snowboard — on display at the Bend Visitor Center

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To check out Kimberly’s art, stop by the Bend Visitor Center from 10:00 – 12:30 and 1:00 – 4:00 seven days a week. You can also find her online at the following spots:

The Bend Adventure Journal

Other Happenings in Bend