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Relative Pursuits

Meet the Beyers — sibling artists featured at Art and the Vineyard
‘Lotus, closed’ by Ian Beyer
‘Lotus, closed’ by Ian Beyer

Sculptor Ian Beyer tells me with a wry smile that his sister, painter Erika Beyer, is the smart one, what with her dual college degrees in scientific illustration and architecture. This is the sort of affectionate ribbing that commonly passes between siblings; what’s not so common is the level of talent that unifies the Beyers in their separate creative endeavors.

Because, despite laboring in differing media, Ian and Erika Beyer both reveal in their work an acute feel for form and a strong ability to realize it — him through intricate metal sculptures derived from the natural world, her through watercolors of flora and fauna that feature the delicate, loving accuracy of Audubon’s field studies.

Ian Beyer, who works out of a converted barn in Jasper, says he started making metal art around 2008 after having grown dissatisfied with the fast pace of industrial welding. “At first it was a hobby,” he says, adding that in time people started asking to buy his sculptures. “I just kind of expanded. I’m kind of self-taught, in a way. A lot of it is experimental; working with metal you just continue to learn.”

His pieces — stunning representations of angler fish, bugs, owls — are composed largely of recycled steel, and many contain various parts repurposed from bikes, saws, car parts and even a scythe. The larger dragon he’s bringing to Art and the Vineyard took him a good month to create. “I like to build the bigger pieces, the more intricate, expensive ones,” he says. “That’s what’s fun.”

As a painter “interested in the intersection of science and art,” Erika Beyer brings to her illustrations her background in technical drawing as well as an abiding desire to “get people to look at something they might not otherwise look at.” This is evidenced in her compelling painting “Counting Crows,” based on an Old English nursery rhyme, in which two crows appear to be discussing a scientific illustration about … counting crows.

“A lot of my art is about trying to demonstrate scientific processes and cycles and folklore,” says Erika Beyer, who is also an instructor at Lane Community College, Oregon State University and Maude Kerns Art Center. “I’m really interested in cycles and stories and sequences. I’m kind of a science nerd.” 

Ian Beyer and Erika Beyer are the featured artists at this weekend’s Art and the Vineyard, which runs July 4-6 at Alton Baker Park. Visit artandthevineyard.org for more details.